Internet was made popular by the notion of freedom, ease and speed. Ability to share information with anyone, by a click on button with a system located at any point of the world. Everyone knew the power of this new technology, and many feared the challenges that will come with this new technology.
Internet has the power of delivering any information to a connected device across the globe immediately. There is no check on the quality of information. This information can help an individual, communities, etc. But as we have seen in some recent cases in India, a wrong information can sometimes lead to loss of lives. Human beings love to speculate, and have opinions about things (politics, finance, etc.) they sometimes have no idea about. These opinions, that a human love to share, cannot always be considered as the right information. In the absence of internet, these opinions will rarely spread to masses. Internet is an information highway, and these opinions can now reach everywhere. Human will always have opinions and will always want to share them. But we need a check on the platform that can help people understand difference between facts and opinions.
- Evidence: In Indian TV dramas there is always a “Bahu”, who wants to spread false information or opinions. Most people around her accept those opinions as facts without asking for evidences. This leads to plots that unravel slowly and these shows run for years (For instance, Kyun Ki Saans Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi). No one in those tv series was asking for evidences. We need to ask for evidence and reject information that cannot be justified by evidences. More serious or impactful the story is, more concrete should be the evidence. Having evidence alone is not going to solve the issue of authentic information. There are many organizations, which are running targeted programs to spread false information, sometimes with false evidences. Images of destruction from Gaza is at times shown as an image of violence and destruction in Kashmir. For a quick reference, one should rely more on news coming from reliable news sources, rather than coming from your unknown friend on Facebook or WhatsApp.
- Authenticity of Evidence: Images, Audios and Videos can be used as evidences on internet. There should be a way to find authenticity of these evidences. Anyone can now take a picture from his camera, edit on his phone and upload to internet as a picture taken elsewhere. A service is required to verify authenticity of this picture. Cutting edge systems are available that can search an image on internet and return results which look similar to the test image. But this solution is not going to be enough in future. Technology companies are working on building smart camera technology and applications which can help one take a picture and then edit any aspect of it. Nowadays one can easily change the background, add more people to picture, replace one object or a person with someone else. Having this technology in everyone’s hand is not solving any big problem for consumer, but will definitely add more problem to find authenticity of a picture. Smart way should be to label any edited image as fake, because when one starts editing an image, he is creating a fake version of the original.
Technology is changing fast and with that, bad actors are adopting newer technologies faster to fool people than companies/people who are working on adding checks and balances. People need to show more restraint when acting on any artifact they see online.