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YourCommonwealth: 'Online news portals are shaping young minds'

28 November 2016

Featured article from YourCommonwealth.org

The power of online news works for benefit and for harm, writes Abdullah Al Hasan, 25, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Dhaka in Bangladesh.

Social media can build solidarity for causes, but can also incite negatives when fake news manipulates the unwary.

Life is now easier than before. We have been able to minimise most of our incommodious ways to share and gather knowledge because of the internet.

Everything is now just one click away. And it has wholly changed the perspective of our news and media industry. Now we don’t have to wait for newspapers to come and TV channels to switch to know an update of any news – we can manage everything from the internet in a jiffy.

Predictably, it has brought up some negative impacts as well. The other side of a good thing has never been something pleasant. Many false online news portals, websites and social media pages now rule over our virtual world. They have been responsible for diverting young people from their consciousness to the dark tunnel of lies. Their contents include manipulating news, political diversions, sexuality and raw emotions.

Since the internet has been the key media of our learning, if you are not sagacious fake stories on the internet can manipulate you in the twinkling of an eye. We cannot really deny the fact that the internet is also the platform for every skin game for the time being. Mostly baseless online news portals and websites fabricate and come up with unsubstantiated news and ostensible write-ups. You might not take the stuff into serious consideration, but then again you have to admit that at the end of the day there are people acting in accordance with the fake news.

Most of these news portals and websites operate just to increase their hits and become popular, but that’s not all of it. There are some portals which are furtively creating fake news to fulfill their specific agendas, spread misdeeds, demotivate and incite people. The stuff they uphold is not irrefutable; you can check any of the background anytime you want. But the problem is that most of the time we really don’t bother to dig something out. We simply go with the flow and it causes the real problem.

Young people have always been prey to this. Young minds love to discover, share and follow. If you let them follow negative things, you are simply destroying the future for them. It takes a lot to build a country. Young minds should be able to differentiate between the right and the wrong. Baseless online news portals drive them to irrelevant and negative vibes. Youth is the age when one should discover the world with a fresh mindset, not be stereotyped and blinded.

Apart from the psychological impacts, there are some political effects as well. In Bangladesh, the idea of the internet is still in mint condition to us. But it is getting popular day by day. The problem begins when our political situation gets unstable or political turmoil takes place. Young people start flying into rage. And in this situation, you can literally manipulate them to a mass destruction using social media channels and online news portals.

As mentioned earlier, the idea of the internet is new to us, so if you come up with false tidings to incite people against a party or a person, they would not mind taking a stand in the streets to protest. This can eventually lead to a more dangerous situation. Most of the people believe that everything is true on the internet. The impact is so extensive that people don’t even bother to check the whole news that is just one click away; its title or headline is enough for them to contemplate their aggressive reactions.

But it is also true that sometimes social media and some online news portals or websites help us stand for a better cause. We can come to know a lot of information and we can unite people easily using these platforms. If any wrong decision gets imposed on us, we can stand against it through social media. Even if the mainstream newspapers don’t support or cover our stories, we can take help from online news portals to spread our thoughts, views and ideas.

Everything has pros and cons. We need to educate people every possible way we can manage. Our government should also take some timely steps like monitoring and observing the activities of some online news portals, websites and social media pages or groups that are responsible for taking people in the wrong direction. Our law enforcement agencies ought to be more technologically advanced to handle these matters.

At the same time, we have to be careful if we are preventing people from thinking freely. Social media platform authorities should also be more long-sighted in this regard.

YourCommonwealth is a youth blog featuring news and feature articles, as well as video content, generated by young people, students and youth leaders. It is a platform for the voices of young people from Commonwealth countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Americas, Europe and the Pacific to be heard. The website was established through the Commonwealth Youth Programme.

Visit www.yourcommonwealth.org