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Published Date: Jan 3, 2017

We need mechanisms to separate truth from false information on internet

We had libraries and books to cross check our references before the internet, but now we have unverified information on the internet, fake conferences and an over production of PhDs, said Dean of the Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University, Dr Adil Najam.
Dr Najam was addressing a seminar on ‘Living in a Post-Truth Era and What Does it Mean for the World and for Pakistan’ on Monday, which was hosted by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute during which he stressed on the need for a mechanism to sift the truth from false information on the internet.
“People have started relying more on the internet and believe what they find on it. During lectures, students will Google what we say and challenge us with incorrect information from unverified sources,” he said.
He says his own children were unimpressed with his academic achievements till his name was featured on Wikipedia and gained 45,000 followers on Twitter.
Expert says the internet has led to unverified information, trust deficit
“The problem is not due to the existence of the internet, it is because we did not devise a mechanism for telling fake information from the truth,” he said.
He said the media adds to this by giving an untrue picture of events, for example falsely claiming that thousands of people attended a public gathering while showing select or stock pictures.
“News channels claim they are the largest channel a day after their inauguration and anchor persons claim theirs is the most popular programme in the country,” he said.
“[The way information is disseminated] has changed, and it is the responsibility of the academia and the media to address the issue. Otherwise, hate between various groups and segments of society will increase,” he warned.
Dr Najam said that issues of trust have developed due to false information and that people do not even trust the police and hire their own guards.
“Politicians promise make various promises, which further contributes to the trust deficit, while people in the United States claim white people are under threat,” he said.
These problems are increasing all over the world, he said. For instance, he added, when George W. Bush won against Al Gore, people were just as angry, but the reaction was not as hard as when Donald Trump won against Hillary Clinton.
He said in the past, people trusted the opinions of experts which is not the case anymore.
Furnishing an example of this, he said that Trump rejected the Central Intelligence Agency’s report of Russia’s involvement in election rigging.