The Indian telecom sector has taken off like no other since the early 21st century. Easier regulations, easy liquidity, improving technology and above all, cheap handsets have seen a boom in cellphone usage across the country. Over the past four or five years, data accessibility and affordable rates have seen a quantum jump in usage. While this has had many beneficial affects, there is one area in which data usage has also given rise to a serious social crisis – that of fake videos.
Altered and outright false videos have flooded WhatsApp groups and other social media platforms. While some of these are innocuous, the majority of them are nothing but false propaganda or narratives looking to create a public panic. Unfortunately, this has led to serious and tragic consequences. The most visible among these has been the lynchings over a a fake video of child kidnapping that has been circulating across the country. Ironically, the original, full length video, which was sourced from Pakistan, was targeted at creating awareness about child kidnapping in Karachi. But the altered version maliciously edited out the part in which the “kidnappers’ return with the child and hold up a banner advising people to be careful.