Counter-Propaganda and Conspiracy against Election

Hiren Pandit

Facebook to help EC combat propaganda and misinformation. EC delegation held a meeting with Facebook’s delegation recently to prevent propaganda and misinformation on Facebook was the main topic. Facebook authorities have assured the Election Commission to assist in preventing misinformation and propaganda on the social media platform following the announcement of the schedule for the 12th parliamentary election.

The main topic of discussion was how to prevent propaganda and misinformation on Facebook. Facebook will delete, and remove content that promotes hate speech, communalism, and other violations In Bangladesh, social media has frequently been abused to provoke social, religious, political, and economic conflict.

Misrepresentation, deception, and harmful content have caused extensive damage. Social media is being used to fan the flames of political unrest throughout this time. Bangladesh’s government and law enforcement authorities will need to be more cautious in managing this issue if they want to keep peace in the entire country.

Nearly everyone today has a smartphone in their possession. People can easily communicate with the rest of the world from large cities to isolated villages. Through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media, everyone is instantaneously informed of what is occurring in the world. In Bangladesh, 80% of internet users have a Facebook account. Several groups are working to profit unlawfully from it.

Social media is now widespread with mis-and disinformation. Every day, tens of thousands of pieces of material with misleading information are published, and millions of people watch them. A billion individuals living in far-off places are unable to independently confirm the accuracy or inaccuracy of the information. According to the intelligence department’s cyber and special crime division, people who wish to undermine the nation primarily commit crimes like disseminating misinformation.

The spread of misinformation has been a major challenge to society for democracy and peace in contemporary times. Bangladesh has historically been subjected to widespread political and communal violence caused by mis- and disinformation at different times, hindering the smooth functioning of the institutions.

The popularity of social media and its increased accessibility to the masses has further complicated the fight against misinformation. Further, it is not uncommon for disinformation to make its way into mainstream society.

Shaping a Future of Rights Freedom of expression is a driver for all other human rights in Bangladesh. Misinformation online and offline proliferates with a serious impact on the institutions underpinning democracy, the rule of law, and human rights. This context necessitates that the proposed initiative will work with multi-stakeholders and youths, in rural areas to identify the mechanisms for countering misinformation at the local level as well as the challenges in dealing with misinformation.

In the digital age, information flows freely, but so does misinformation. In Bangladesh, journalism, like in many parts of the world, is facing an unprecedented challenge. As the nation’s media landscape continues to evolve, journalists find themselves at the forefront of this battle to uphold truth and integrity. The challenges journalism in Bangladesh faces concerning fake news and the crucial role it plays in safeguarding a democratic society.

Misinformation and disinformation have become an alarming global phenomenon, and Bangladesh is no exception. The rise of social media platforms has made it easier for false information to spread rapidly, posing a significant threat to the credibility of journalism. In Bangladesh, misinformation is prevalent on social media platforms, mostly Facebook and Messenger, which play vital roles in spreading misinformation. On social media, it often goes viral before being debunked.

Disinformation is a deliberate strategy aimed at spreading false or misleading information with the intent to deceive, manipulate, or harm individuals, groups, or institutions. This phenomenon encompasses three distinct categories: disinformation, misinformation, and mal-information, all of which can pose significant threats to journalism and the integrity of mainstream media. In these three categories, various tactics are employed to achieve their harmful goals.

These tactics include the dissemination of false connections, the presentation of misleading content, the distortion of context, the creation of imposter content, the manipulation of visuals or audio, the fabrication of entirely false narratives, the release of confidential information, and the use of harassment and hate speech.

The consequences of misinformation and disinformation can be dire, ranging from inciting violence to damaging reputations and undermining trust in the media. When such occurrences persist within mainstream media, rumors have the potential to proliferate, and vested interests may seize the opportunity to exploit them.

In recent times, our nation has unfortunately witnessed a series of distressing incidents, such as the Ramu, Nasirnagar, and Cumilla among others. These events have not only caused significant harm within our borders but have also had a detrimental impact on our reputation both domestically and internationally.

Bangladesh’s internet penetration rate stood at 31.5 percent of the total population, and the number of internet users has been increasing to 130.58 million.

In contrast, the number of mobile phone users has reached 186 million. It means that the vast majority of the population can afford a smartphone and that information can flow freely. One of the foremost challenges is the race to report news quickly in a round-the-clock news cycle. This push for immediacy can compromise the accuracy of information. Journalists often find themselves under pressure to break news first, leading to hastily published stories that may contain errors or unverified information. In a world where misinformation thrives on sensationalism, responsible journalism must prioritize accuracy over speed.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken appropriate measures to respond to the false propaganda and rumors being spread outside the country against the government, but it is necessary to speed it up. Misinformation is being spread against Bangladesh, Bangladesh missions abroad are always active to protest and logically respond to that misinformation through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the respective countries.

Bangladesh has taken to counter this digital propaganda and activities are ongoing with the international media to highlight the positive image of Bangladesh. Moreover, the foreign Embassies and High Commissions are working tirelessly under the leadership of the Foreign Minister. It is also known from the Ministry sources that they are giving regular press conferences and replies on Twitter to prevent misinformation. Everyone is working under the dynamic leadership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to respond to the rumors and false information being spread against the government.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken a comprehensive program to highlight the success of the government and the progress of the country to foreign governments, organizations, media and expatriate Bangladeshis and the work is being conducted according to that plan. The Ministry is also aware of those who engage in anti-state and anti-government activities, propagandists, seditious speakers and listed criminals and continue to make various efforts to deter them.

Fighting fake news during election time can be challenging, but there are several steps that individuals and organizations can take to help combat its spread. One crucial step is to fact-check information before sharing it. This can be done by using reputable sources such as news organizations, government websites, and fact-checking organizations to verify the accuracy of the information. Facebook and Google have set up a special system to monitor fake news in Bangladesh.

Another critical step is to avoid sharing information from unverified sources, particularly on social media. This can help prevent the spread of disinformation and fake news, as well as other types of misinformation. Ambassadors advised Bangladesh on what to do and not to do. Due to Sheikh Hasina’s skillful diplomacy and prudence, foreign interference in the internal affairs of Bangladesh has now stopped. Sheikh Hasina has strictly controlled the tendency of different Embassies to make statements or comment on the election or other issues. Such a visionary decision of the Prime Minister of a country like Bangladesh is an inspiration for countries struggling for development in the world.

Now Bangabandhu Corner has been introduced in every mission. Through this corner, the economic success of our country can be seen on the monitor. Many people do not have a clear idea about Bangladesh, similarly, many people do not have a clear idea about democracy in this country. Apart from Bangladesh, no other country in the world is highlighting these issues where people have given their lives for democracy, justice and human rights. Bangabandhu Corner is working to protect the image of the country.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs is conducting planned activities on them. Where there is no regional peace and stability in the world, we have been able to achieve a lot of success due to the presence of peace and stability in Bangladesh in the last 15 years. We have achieved this through the collective efforts of all. Sheikh Hasina to build a knowledge and technology-based smart Bangladesh in 2041 by achieving sustainable development goals by 2030 has been adopted and activities are being conducted collectively to implement it.

The Awami League government has been in charge of running the country for 15 consecutive years. The government is facing various adversities in its third term. Nasty slander, especially on social media, has increased dramatically. The activities of lobbyist firms have been added to this. Lobbyist firms in various influential countries are continuously spreading false propaganda against the government and as a result of all this propaganda, some countries are taking a negative attitude towards Bangladesh.

The government feels that such propaganda may increase in the coming days ahead of the elections. Especially on social media. On the other hand, lobbyist firms in various countries including the United States, United Kingdom, and European Union are trying to break the friendly relations of those countries with Bangladesh by providing various false information. In this situation, the responsible sources of the government have confirmed that the Awami League government has decided to take some initiatives to prevent propaganda. These decisions include- Making Embassies more active: Many of the embassies that Bangladesh has in different countries around the world are not active. Their main function is to give various protocols and observe the day.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is giving new instructions to all Embassies. Efforts have been made to make the Embassies more active so that various misinformation cannot be spread especially against Bangladesh. It is also known that qualified people will be given in the Embassy somewhere. The main objective is to ensure that the embassies are in constant contact with the concerned state and take immediate action against any false propaganda. Awami League has branch organizations in almost all countries of the world, affiliate organizations have branches. However, all these organizations are not as active as before.

They are not responding to the disinformation that is being spread on this kind of social media or they are also indifferent to the anti-Bangladesh propaganda that is being done in different places. The government wants to activate the local Awami League from there. For this reason, new instructions have been given to the branch organizations or affiliated organizations of Awami League in different places, that they should be vigilant against such propaganda and anti-Bangladesh activities and carry out programs.

The government has decided to file a complaint with the concerned authorities against those who are spreading mischief on social media. These reports will be made from wherever they are and strict instructions will be issued to them not to run such content on YouTube, Facebook or any other social media. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be made more active. The government has taken the initiative to increase public relations with the foreign embassies in Bangladesh. Proper publicity about Bangladesh in foreign media.

The government has taken the initiative to present the correct image of Bangladesh in the international media including CNN, BBC, and the New York Times. The responsible sources of the government have confirmed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been working in this regard. The government thinks this propaganda should not become a big disease in the future, so it is most important to take the initiative from now.

Under the dynamic leadership of Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh has gained a place of honor in the world. Father of the Nation Bangabandhu introduced Bangladesh as a newly independent state on the world map, and his daughter Sheikh Hasina is moving the classic debt-dependent Bangladesh towards a prosperous Bangladesh with dynamic and indomitable leadership.

The writer is a columnist and researcher

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