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By: Rayees Masroor, Najmu Nissa

The terms post-truth’ and fake news have become increasingly prevalent in public discourse over the past few years. Post-truth refers to a wishful thinking, political spin, mass delusion and bold-faced lying. It is an assertion of ideological supremacy by which its practitioners try to compel someone to believe something regardless of the evidence. It relates circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.

The post reality world emerged due to societal mega-traits inclusive of a decline in social capital, developing monetary inequality, extended polarization, declining belief in science and more importantly a fractionated media landscape. As a concept Post-fact or the post truth is a different and longer be burdened with a lie. It is lot greater devious and threatening to the democratic material of our society.

The prefix “post” in post-truth declares that the concept of reality or truth has turn out to be redundant and consequently can be discarded. Post-truth is the perception that fact is not essential as it has turn out to be obsolete. The world we live in is flooded with misinformation, fake news and propaganda but it doesn’t mean that the truth or the real facts have lost the relevance or that no one cares about the truth at all. It is a deliberate tactic for the political subordination of the facts. Essentially post truth world highlights that the truth is at risk and we are in danger of losing the sight of the real facts that matter.

It is an attempt to corrupt our beliefs and replace facts with alternate facts. The mainstream media and the social media have been the tools to subjugate the truth and spread alternate facts instead of actual facts. The politico-corporate nexus has been at the forefront of undermining the real facts and spreading misinformation. Politicians use the media as a tool to spread selected facts only to divert the attention from the real happenings as they want public opinion in their favour. The corporate media landscape has been advertising everything for monetary benefits with utter disregard to the real facts.

The so called post truth world has been witnessing elections being fought on the plank of misinformation, fake news and paid propaganda through media channels and social media outlets. The recent case of a TRP scam in India is a classic example of subjugation of facts and dissemination of misinformation. The politicians through an adopted political language have been able to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable. This pandemic of post truth transcends boundaries around the world. According to a Washington post report, former US president, Donald Trump, has told around 7000 lies during his presidency which is quite alarming. Post-truth also includes misleading claims and forms of public discourse commonly called bullshit.

New techniques and tools of communication are its condition of possibility as they enable its production, rapid circulation and absorption into the body politics of democratic societies and beyond. In a bid to replace the reality Photoshop materials and mash-ups, web applications and pages that recycle content from more than one source to create a single new service displayed in a single graphical interface are used- Donald Trump’s campaign advertisement showed migrants crossing the Mexican border which was not true, in fact, it was an image of migrants crossing from Morocco to Melilla in North Africa.

Post truth also depends on the bits and pieces of colourful communication designed to attract and distract public attention in order to interrupt the dissemination of real facts. The news has been replaced by meaningless noise and the debates have turned pointless.

To counter the menace of misinformation and to undo the adverse effects of post truth world, there is a need to check the veracity of facts and block the fake news and prevent it from being spread through various news platforms. Social media regulatory measures are the need of the hour, legislations to discourage misinformation and tabloid news are needed to fight for the survival of the truth. Also the responses to this malaise should contain technological answers incorporating mental principles and interdisciplinary method usually described as technocognition.

(Rayees Masroor is a writer and columnist. Najmu Nissa is a PhD scholar. Email at rayeesmasroor111@gmail.com)

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