Fact-checking to safeguard democracy amid propaganda politics

Published : 26 Jul 2023 08:56 PM

In the age of information, politics in Bangladesh, like in many other parts of the world, has been greatly influenced by propaganda. Misleading narratives, misinformation, and half-truths have become all too common, raising concerns about the erosion of truth and the quality of public discourse. In such a scenario, fact-checking emerges as a vital tool to protect the essence of democracy. As citizens and responsible journalists, we must uphold the integrity of information and scrutinize the claims made by the opposition, irrespective of their ideological standing. In this editorial, we delve into the importance of fact-checking and how it can safeguard democracy amidst the propaganda politics of the opposition in Bangladesh.

Propaganda has deep roots in politics, and its prevalence has only grown with the advent of social media and instant communication. In Bangladesh, opposition parties have increasingly resorted to propagandistic tactics to sway public opinion and delegitimize the ruling government. False narratives, manipulated images, and out-of-context quotes have flooded online platforms, misleading a sizable section of the population. The damage done by such propaganda can be severe, leading to polarization, distrust in institutions, and erosion of democratic values.

In this age of information overload, media outlets and journalists shoulder a profound responsibility in disseminating accurate and verified information. Unfortunately, sensationalism and the race for clicks and views have occasionally compromised journalistic integrity. Sensational claims and unverified stories, often originating from opposition sources, find their way into headlines without rigorous fact-checking. This only amplifies the spread of misinformation, undermining the public's trust in the media and the democratic process.

Fact-checking is not a mere luxury; it is the moral imperative of journalism. At its core, fact-checking is about seeking the truth, regardless of political affiliations. It involves meticulous verification of claims, data, and sources to ensure that the information presented to the public is accurate and unbiased. Fact-checkers play a vital role in debunking misleading narratives and propaganda-driven falsehoods, thereby empowering citizens to make informed decisions.

Fact-checking can play a crucial role in reducing the impact of

 Bangladesh’s opposition's propaganda politics aimed at

 defaming the government. Bysubjecting the claims and 

narratives propagated by the opposition to rigorous scrutiny, 

fact-checkers can expose the inaccuracies and falsehoods,

thereby undermining the credibility of such propaganda

While fact-checking is indispensable, it faces numerous challenges in the context of Bangladesh's political landscape. The lack of adequate resources for fact-checking initiatives, particularly in the face of well-funded propaganda campaigns, can impede their effectiveness. Additionally, the polarized nature of politics may lead some to dismiss fact-checking efforts as biased or politically motivated, further perpetuating the spread of misinformation.

To combat propaganda effectively, a concerted effort must be made to build public awareness about the importance of fact-checking. Education and media literacy programs can empower citizens to critically evaluate information and discern fact from fiction. It is essential to promote and provide support to fact-checking initiatives in order to extend their reach to a broader audience and gain their confidence. Media organizations, in particular, should prioritize the implementation of fact-checking protocols to regain public confidence and hold themselves accountable.

Addressing the challenge of well-funded propaganda requires a collaborative approach. Media houses, civil society organizations, and tech companies can join forces to establish a comprehensive fact-checking network. This network could pool resources, share expertise, and create a unified front against misinformation. By promoting transparency and accountability, such collaborations can foster a robust fact-checking ecosystem in Bangladesh.

Social media platforms, as powerful conduits of information, must also take greater responsibility in curbing the spread of propaganda. Implementing stricter policies against the dissemination of false information and providing support to fact-checking organizations can help in reducing the impact of propaganda. Leveraging technology to identify and label potentially misleading content can empower users to make informed decisions about the information they consume.

If the media does not follow fact-checking, the consequences can be dire for both the society and the democratic fabric of a nation. Without fact-checking, misinformation and propaganda can spread unchecked, leading to the distortion of truth and the creation of alternative realities. This can result in the polarization of the public, as people become entrenched in their own echo chambers, unwilling to consider differing viewpoints. As a consequence, trust in media institutions will erode, and citizens may turn to unreliable sources, further exacerbating the spread of falsehoods. The lack of fact-checking can also lead to the manipulation of public opinion and electoral processes, undermining the very essence of democracy. In such a scenario, the informed citizenry that is vital for a functioning democracy will be replaced by a disoriented and misinformed populace, threatening the foundations of a free and open society.

Fact-checking can play a crucial role in reducing the impact of Bangladesh's opposition's propaganda politics aimed at defaming the government. By subjecting the claims and narratives propagated by the opposition to rigorous scrutiny, fact-checkers can expose the inaccuracies and falsehoods, thereby undermining the credibility of such propaganda. Fact-checking provides the public with a reliable source of verified information, empowering them to make informed decisions and resist falling victim to misinformation. Additionally, when fact-checks are widely disseminated through reputable media outlets, social media platforms, and other channels, they can act as a counterbalance to the misleading narratives spread by the opposition. By promoting transparency and accountability, fact-checking instills greater trust in the government's actions and policies, making it more challenging for the opposition to manipulate public opinion through deceptive tactics. However, for fact-checking to be truly effective, it must be carried out impartially and without bias, ensuring that all sides of the political spectrum are subjected to the same scrutiny.

In the midst of propaganda politics in Bangladesh, fact-checking emerges as the guardian of truth and a defender of democracy. It is an ethical duty for journalists and media organizations to prioritize the accuracy and veracity of their reporting. The public, too, bears the responsibility of verifying the information they encounter before forming opinions or making decisions. By strengthening fact-checking initiatives, promoting media literacy, and encouraging collaboration among various stakeholders, we can create a robust defense against the onslaught of propaganda. Only through an informed and discerning citizenry can Bangladesh secure its democratic values and build a brighter future for all.

Dr. Pranab Kumar Panday is a Professor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Rajshahi