India’s internet is one of the most highly-influenced spaces in the world.
But as a new government survey has found, it’s also a cesspit of fake news, social engineering and other forms of online abuse.
“There is a huge amount of fake content on the internet,” says Suresh Kumar, a technology entrepreneur who co-founded the news site Gigaom and is now the editor-in-chief of The Times.
“It is not only news, but also commentary, criticism, opinion, analysis and commentary.”
He says the country’s internet users have become used to fake news and social engineering, where “you will find a story about an event, a protest, a political party, a terrorist attack, whatever.”
This is particularly true in the context of social media, which is heavily controlled by governments and corporate media companies, he says.
“There is an absolute dominance of these companies.
There are no checks and balances.”
Kumar, who also runs the startup Gigaome, believes the government’s survey, published today, is a major first step to ensure a fair and open internet.
While India’s economy is not the fastest growing in the developed world, the country is among the world’s most digitally savvy, according to a 2016 McKinsey report.
“What we are doing to make sure there is transparency, to make it easy for people to be able to use the internet, is an important step,” Kumar says.
The country’s new government, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has made social media a top priority and is taking measures to ensure citizens can share and share quickly.
But while many of the government plans are commendable, there are a number of things it can do better.
For starters, it should focus on the more mundane things, like curbing fake news stories and “cybercrime,” Kumar said.
The government has said it wants to “bring transparency to the internet.”
But it’s not clear if that means putting in place rules to make users feel safe on the platform, or just letting them choose what they want to share.
And it should also address some of the more controversial areas, like “fake news” and “fake accounts.”
India has more than 2 billion internet users, and its internet users are a diverse group, with some using Facebook and other social media platforms.
In the survey, many of them used fake accounts.
But the government said it was doing its part, adding that it was launching an online “anti-cybercrimes” campaign to tackle fake news.