Hiren Pandit: National Parliament elections will be held in the country this year. Multifaceted activities and alliance formation have already started around this election. Rumors have started spreading along with all this. Rumors and misinformation have increased recently in the country and will increase further. Because the national election is ahead. Politics and rumors have been singled out by many. There is no need for rumors or lies if the party has public support. But using the weapon of rumor without attracting the public will not do much in return. It would not be wrong to call the rumor a new form of terrorism. Anti-rumor laws should be made more effective. However, care must be taken to ensure that the law is not misused. But moving forward, not rumors, the people have to decide and check the facts before believing or spreading anything. If the politics of rumors and lies push the party back, if you do politics with these things, you will not be able to make the smart formula of repairing the state very far.
In the age of digital Bangladesh, mobile is in everyone’s hands. Internet at home. From cities to remote villages, people are easily in touch with the world. Everyone is instantly getting what is happening around, and what is being heard through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media. 80 percent of internet users in Bangladesh have a Facebook account. Currently, the number of Facebook users in the country is around 50 million. The number of viewers on YouTube is more than 3 crores. Someone is making money using this opportunity for good. Some people are also taking advantage of it. Hacker circles have formed in different villages.
How the political arena is being heated using social media is the main topic of discussion. Social media is now full of rumors and lies. In particular, slander against the government or Awami League is spread every day. Many important persons, institutions and celebrities of the state including the Prime Minister, and Chief Justice are being implicated in these rumors. Some of the rumors have implicated sensitive institutions like the armed forces.
Thousands of content are released every day with false information. And millions of people are watching it. Many believe it. Because this news has no credibility without mainstream media, it is unknown to many. Moreover, it is not possible for billions of people in remote areas to verify the truth or falsity of that information. And taking this opportunity is a reactionary cycle. The cyber and special crime department of the intelligence department says that those who want to destabilize the country mainly do such things. Therefore, the Cyber and Special Crime Department has advised not to believe these reports. They advisednot to react after hearing any news, but to check whether the incident is true or not.
It is said of Nero that he was playing the flute while Rome was burning. There are many sociological, anthropological and historical analyzes on the subject, and explanations were, are and will be in the future. But in political considerations, like Raban, he too was attacked by Vibhishana i.e. Mitra. In this respect, he had a difference from Raban. Nero is subjected to perverted behavior by Raban’s family and his power-hungry councilors. Nero took drastic measures to stop the assassination by poisoning his senators. Because of this, the senators went against him. They provoked the rest so Nero took responsibility for the fire in Rome.
A recent study revealed that a group has chosen to spread rumors as a profession. For this, however, it is reported that they get both sides of the money. One powerful opposition party, two online platforms. It is happening globally. Bangladesh’s national elections are less than a year away. It’s the business season for global and domestic rumor-mongers. The buyers who go to rent them are also interested and enthusiastic. What is good for the country or the hidden branding of the opponent?
One group does country-by-country election work as a temporary occupation. A consortium of journalists from 30 media outlets around the world was informed about the work by searching. Three investigative journalists pretended to be customers and detailed information came out. Their main work is to collect information about the opponent through hacking, analysis, slander against the candidate, spreading rumors, slander and spreading false information on social media to create public opinion in favor of their candidate. So far, this group is claimed to have influenced more than 30 elections in different countries.
This group is led by a person using a pseudonym. The masked man told reporters that they worked for various countries’ intelligence agencies, political campaigns and private companies that wanted to sway public opinion. They have served various clients in Africa, South and Central America, the USA and Europe.
The team maintains thousands of fake accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Telegram, Gmail, Instagram and YouTube using the sophisticated software package Advanced Impact Media Solutions. They even have an account on Amazon, the global online shopping platform. This is how Gmail, Telegram and other online communication accounts are hacked and information is obtained. Systematically arranges news coverage in credible media. Poe arranges for them to be distributed online. Tactics also involve disrupting an adversary’s campaign or carrying out subversive activities. There are examples of many politicians blackmailing their families to upset them. In other words, the goal is to upset the mind.
Another election will be held in our country at the end of this year. Where Awami League will fight to maintain continuity. Because continuous governance is very necessary for development. It can be expected that Awami League will win the fair elections. But to speed up that victory chariot of Sheikh Hasina and break the waist of rumors, such effective steps have to be taken. There are some online-focused activities, and more innovative and creative things to think about. Apart from this, there is a need to discuss Sheikh Hasina’s development and achievements with a large number of rural voters.
There is no need for a separate story about Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s development and achievements. People will be amazed just by showing what she has done. The world is amazed. The world media expressed their opinion day and night that Bangabandhu’s democratic policy was right, and Sheikh Hasina’s development thinking was extraordinary and the people of Bangladesh are still inactive.
Sheikh Hasina’s reputation is worldwide. She is fighting numerous problems including corruption, greed, and fundamentalism. So creative initiatives are needed to prevent rumors against her achievements. Youth should be openly involved in this initiative of decentralization. Sociologists will consider what are the socio-cultural causes of rumors. But there is a clear politics behind it and this politics is being done by a group of identified people, who do not want the country to move forward, to return to the practice of a healthy culture in the society. In this age of globalization, people are moving forward and there is no chance for the people of our country to be left behind. Rumors, though different in nature, were already widespread. Rumors were practiced in every corner of the society. However, after the advent of social media like Facebook, it seems that its level of horror has exceeded. Due to rumors, houses have been set on fire several times, vandalized. It goes to different places. How a mother was beaten to death by a group of madmen by promoting child abduction. At various times, many people have been embarrassed by the status made in the name of insulting religion on Facebook. The trump card of this rumor was also used in the Kota Movement or Safe Road Movement. The highly educated people of the society also participated in those rumors. We see university teachers, journalists, and Facebook celebrities who are known to us as conscious and awake people, they also participate in the drama of these rumors.
Criticism and lies are never the same. Criticism of any person or government can be done, but it should be done with decency by expressing your opinion. Freedom to do as one pleases without interfering with the rights of others does not block or attack the avenues of expression of others. But we see such people also participating in the propaganda of these rumors, who themselves often work and write about the freedom of expression. Gives a speech or preaches. But when another person’s actions do not match their views, they can be seen to support a false position centered on that point.
As modern technology is helping to spread new rumors. Rumors spread quickly. Many are making lies and deliberately spreading falsehoods. These deliberate falsehoods, falsehoods and stories are now being used on social media and even mass media instead of being spread to the public. The saddest thing is that a class of so-called educated people is using these things and spreading them in various ways to convince others. A class is also using religious institutions to spread this false information, stories or fake videos.
During the liberation war in this country, many such myths and lies were spread. Its continuation is still going on. These lies are being spread using social media at regular intervals. It basically tried to embarrass the current Awami League government. These lies are for people to get angry and lose confidence. Spreading falsehoods for these organized nefarious purposes is a rumor. There are various interpretations of the rumor. Sociologists have also made appropriate definitions. Rumors are motivated and spread with malicious intent, rumors are spread with the intention of slandering a party or defaming or harming someone or a group. Spreading false and incorrect information or matter to a class and leading them to believe that what is spread has happened or will happen; however, it is all wrong and false.
Rumors are spread to mislead people or create fear among the public. Some capitalize on uncertainty and feed on rumor tablets. According to many experts, rumors are a subset of propaganda. Some opposition parties in our country have been using this subset as a political weapon. More or less we all know-understand and can guess where the source of political rumors is or how these are created and spread. Several political workers regularly read these lies and rumors, as if this is their job.
Even in 2014, violence was done in the country by spreading rumors. However, later the aggressors and the besiegers retreated. Thousands of innocent people were burnt. Recently, rumors that there is no money in the bank were spread, and the leaders and activists of a party spread them through various media. Later, the rumor makers were arrested.
It is observed that there has been an attempt to embarrass the government or the Awami League through rumors, bypassing the normal process of politics in Bangladesh. There will be parties and opposition in politics, politics for the welfare of the people. Policy differences are the hallmark of politics, but aside from the mentality of calling good, reliance on evil rumors is both laughable and detrimental to the country. If anything, rumors are being spread through various channels without logical criticism. Even in this case religion is not being left out, we have to come out of this misdeed of misleading people by misusing religion.
Hiren Pandit is a
columnist and a researcher.