Proliferation of Misinformation in Social Media During the Hamas-Israel War: The Need for Media Information Literacy

The greatest theoretical physicist Albert Einstein’s statement “Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted” gets a ground in the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel, the ever intricate dispute within the geopolitical realm of the Middle East. The world, with the increased visibility of social media in recent years, has witnessed a plethora of misinformation since the re-emergence of this protracted and versatile conflict, and as a result false, fake, AI generated, misleading, fragmented photos and news are roaming around in everyone’s social media walls.  The increased visibility of social media in recent years has highlighted its significant influence on public perception and opinion in the context of conflicts. Although these platforms provide unparalleled access to knowledge, they also pose a concerning issue: the unregulated dissemination of mis-and-disinformation. The former refers to the unintentional spread of inaccurate and false information, and the latter stands for the generation and spread of malinformation with an ill intention. The dissemination of inaccurate or false information within the framework of the Hamas-Israel war holds significant influence. Social media platforms, renowned for their rapid dissemination of news, frequently serve as fertile ground for the proliferation of inaccurate or deceptive information. Misinformation manifests in several ways, encompassing the manipulation of imagery, the dissemination of biased narratives, and the propagation of incorrect assertions on the genesis and development of the conflict. The ramifications of disinformation are more significant and critical. Such phenomenon incites animosity, exacerbates societal rifts, and prolongs preexisting generalizations. 

Though Bangladesh has provided moral support to Palestine, there is a proliferation of inaccurate information being disseminated. In addition, the dominant political party is using the ongoing conflict to its advantage, including misinformation tactics to undermine the credibility of opposing people and political factions. Opportunistic individuals are actively seeking avenues to maximize their commercial gains. In the prevailing political landscape of Bangladesh, the use of photo-cards and dissemination of fabricated news with spurious quotations have emerged as very effective instruments employed by misinformation propagators. The opposition party’s moral attitude on the Hamas-Israel war problem is garnering sympathy through the dissemination of deception or misinformation via fabricated photo-cards or false news. The endeavors of those in positions of authority to accumulate commendation. Over the recent months, there has been observed a proliferation of disinformation disseminated by online supporters affiliated with the governing political party. This disinformation campaign has been primarily aimed at discrediting political opponents by exploiting a range of situations. In addition to political and religious aspirations, discernible patterns of entrepreneurial aspirations may also be observed. In a display of solidarity with Palestine, several counterfeit compilations of Israeli merchandise have been sent via social media platforms, advocating for a boycott of those items. The aforementioned lists further include other items that can serve as alternatives for Israeli goods. There is no justification to perceive it as atypical for an individual to exploit the public’s ethical opposition against Israel in order to assert that a different brand of goods originates from Israel, hence securing personal financial benefits by diminishing the demand for this product. Individuals who express solidarity with the Palestinian cause may then opt to purchase the products listed as a substitute for Israeli goods.

The use of artificial intelligence remains relatively nascent, despite the fact that the Hamas-Israeli conflict did not provide significant transformative effects within the realm of deception in Bangladesh. In an attempt to disseminate unfounded information pertaining to the conflict, a picture generated via the utilization of artificial intelligence was purportedly depicting a scenario whereby Hamas combatants were descending from the atmosphere using parachutes with the objective of safeguarding the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Moreover, there exists evidence indicating the use of foreign action game video simulations to assert the authenticity of recordings depicting shooting during the Hamas-Israel confrontation. Given the existence of a depiction of artificial intelligence, it is not entirely implausible to consider the potential for further speculation over the use of this technology in future conflicts.

In order to address the increasing prevalence of misinformation, it is imperative to prioritize media information literacy. Media literacy refers to the cognitive and critical skills necessary to effectively access, analyze, evaluate, and generate media information. In contemporary society, this concept encompasses not just traditional forms of media, but also digital and social media platforms. First of all, the promotion of critical thinking skills is a fundamental aspect of media information literacy, as it empowers individuals to engage in a discerning evaluation of the material they encounter inside the online realm. Instead of engaging in passive information consumption, it is imperative for consumers to critically examine the source, underlying intentions, and accuracy of the content. Secondly, the evaluation of sources is an essential skill that must be taught in order to enable individuals to judge the trustworthiness of information. It is important to possess the ability to discern between a meticulously researched journalistic article and an opinion piece or propaganda in order to make well-informed assessments. Thirdly, encouraging the Adoption of Fact-Checking: The promotion of fact-checking tools and practices can facilitate the verification of the veracity of statements encountered by individuals on social media platforms. Fact-checking organizations serve a crucial role in ensuring accountability for disseminators of disinformation. Moreover, the significance of responsible sharing should be emphasized. Promoting the practice of users independently verifying material before to dissemination can effectively mitigate the proliferation of inaccurate or misleading content. On top of that, the promotion of digital resilience via education can play a crucial role in safeguarding persons’ mental and emotional well-being by increasing awareness of the emotional consequences associated with the consumption of misinformation and providing effective techniques to build resilience in the digital realm.

In contemporary society, where social media exerts a progressively significant influence on public sentiment and political determinations, possessing a comprehensive understanding and critical discernment is not only an individual obligation, but rather a civic need. In order to address the widespread dissemination of inaccurate information, it is imperative for educational institutions, governmental bodies, and civil society organizations to collaborate in order to provide individuals with the necessary abilities to effectively traverse the intricate information environment characteristic of the digital era. The collective effort to combat disinformation is a responsibility that necessitates the participation of every individual.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *