Spreading Fake News, Fact Checking and the Quran

Spreading Fake News, Fact Checking and the Quran November 15, 2020

How many times we see a piece of news or information on social media that turns out to be totally false or baseless? How often do we feel compelled to share it on our social media platform without confirming it first? Are we not responsible for spreading fake news? With the fact-checking in vogue nowadays, the Qur’an called for it some 1400 years ago, as mentioned below.

Be truthful. How many times have you forwarded a facebook or Whatsapp message to your friends or group without confirming its legitimacy, source of information or authenticity? It does not matter if it is of political nature or bit of information we can use in our daily lives; we are too keen to share them with others.

I am fine with sharing news that is authentic. I am good with sharing something you feel is funny and want to make your friends laugh along with you. But serious news or information about politics, health, finances etc needs special consideration.

There has been a lot of information about Coronavirus out there that is simply not medically accurate. “People who wear masks are as likely or even more likely to catch Coronavirus” is simply not true. Numerous home remedies have been touted as offering protection against the virus. The list goes on and on.

Then there are these cautionary tales. Cautionary notes about ‘do not do this or else…” are very popular popular. Cars may explode if your cell phone charger stays in the car charger.

There are these gossipy messages about celebrities or political figures, often leading to defamation of individuals.

And the news about politics just takes us to the next level. There is a ton of misinformation about the recent presidential election. Half the country believes the election was rigged, without any proof put forward. Social media has played a huge role in spreading these lies.

Way before the social media became an integral part of our lives, the Qur’an, over 1400 years ago addressed the issue of spreading rumors, and warned against spreading any news without confirming it first.

O you who believe! If an iniquitous person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest you harm people unwittingly, and afterwards be filled with remorse for what you have done. The Qur’an 49:6

The verse calls for Investigating the information or news before spreading it to others.  In other words, please do your own fact-check before passing it on.
So my plea to you is to think twice before hitting that “forward” button on Whatsapp or the share button on facebook. Regardless of the rules laid out by the social media companies (which are extremely lax and appropriately criticized by many), we have a moral and religious obligation to ascertain the truth before sharing/spreading it.

Let’s not (unwittingly) become part of the fake

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