As the 2018 polls approaches Bhutan’s social media scene is becoming host to deliberately created ‘fake news,’ that spins tall and sensational yarns with mainly a political twist or aim.
The surprising thing is that a lot of what is posted as fake news is being accepted as the truth by many seemingly gullible social media consumers in Bhutan.
There is very little to no effort made by people to verify fake posts that go viral and become an ‘alternative-fact’ on its own.
Given that the US Presidential elections was influenced to a degree by fake news on the social media, a clear attempt is being made by party supporters to generate fake news on a daily basis, no matter what impact it has on individuals, institutions and the country.
The sad thing is that while the social media is still largely a force for good in Bhutan if used in a responsible way, the big spike in fake news is hurting its credibility.
Apart from fake news another issue coming up is ‘out of context or incomplete news’ on the social media where a short statement or sensation line is brought out only to go viral and be misunderstood by people who don’t know the complete context or background.
There is also ‘outrage porn’ doing the rounds with people ready to take outrage over the smallest issues without again understanding the full picture or context.
Some of this seems to be having an impact in the language and tone of media houses and media practitioners as well.
Bhutan is a small country with a small and closely knit society. So this kind of social media culture will not only have a political impact but it is also increasingly have a social impact on many people.
While rumor mongering was always there, it was limited in the past, but social media can be rumors on a rocket engine with a far larger impact area and far higher casualties.
If not checked, we may be moving from fake news to fake politics and a fake society where facts and the famed Bhutanese commonsense gives way to a bull in a china shop.
“Alternative facts and fake news are just other names for propaganda”