However, lately Dr. Bhargav had been learning about the unfortunate turn of events this app created within her own country. Post colonial India emerged as a regional technology-based economic powerhouse in a very short period of time. Then globalization appeared in horizon, bringing foreign investments and expertise as well as the wealth inequality, now plaguing the western nations.
Dr. Bhargav read the headlines quickly and then turned the front-page over. Right there on the second page, there was a full-page ad titled “Together, We Will Defeat False Information” from the parent company of the social media site. With several millions users out of a population of more than one billion, that particular messaging app had evolved into a lethal instrument in propagating fake information, deliberate character assassination especially involving child-kidnapping and rape, religious bigotry, and political propaganda.
Recently, several investigative journalists from a non-profit organization tracked down at least two dozen cases of mob-lynching of suspected child snatchers, based on fake commentaries and gruesome pictures of photo-shopped mutilated bodies. Another group found evidence of similar cases of mob-lynching involving suspected rapists. But the toll had been heavy involving religious strife. The centuries-old friction between two main religious groups of the country now finds new fronts on the computer-screens, gets twisted, and propagated through false information via this messaging app resulting in deadly riots in different parts of the country.
The ad in the newspaper went on to offer tips how to spot false information, check out the origin, and then re-check from another source about its accuracy. It also suggested checking out the information on the sender, while putting forward a profound reminder “Receiving the same information again and again does not make it true.” But for Dr. Bhargav, the “Devil” might be already out of bottle, given the country’s language, cultural, and religious diversity and economic disparity. She finished her coffee and rushed towards her lab, murmuring “May be the future robots with superior artificial intelligence would indeed be smarter than human beings to distinguish between self-preservation vs. self-destruction.”