The Karnataka government is determined to tackle the menace of fake news by being the first state to launch a fact-checking unit empowered to spot networks that create such malicious content, stop the spread and punish the culprits.
To be handheld by the state IT/BT (information technology/biotechnology) minister Priyank Kharge, the Congress-ruled state plans a watertight system enabled by artificial intelligence and machine learning to check, eliminate and stop the proliferation of fake news that has been causing headache to the law enforcement authorities in the state.
Chief minister Siddaramaiah gave his nod for the initiative at a meeting on Monday, as his government aims to crack down and minimise the extent of fake news in circulation ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls when such content is likely to be more.
The use of AI in the new initiative and the larger structure of the fact-check operation would make it vastly different from the one that is being run by the state police.
Siddaramaiah told Monday’s meeting that fake news was the main reason for communal polarisation in the state. He instructed officials to come up with a framework to tackle the menace from within the existing guidelines without affecting freedom of speech, said an aide of the chief minister.
While the structure of the committee to oversee the operations is being worked out, it would comprise nodal officers, a fact-finding committee and a capacity-building team.
Priyank said existing fact-checkers, who had been functioning independently, would be empanelled in the operation and more fact-checkers would be added eventually. He said the fact-checking team would flag any suspicious content and take it up with the hosting platform like X, Facebook and others.
While the suspicious content would be taken down once proven fake, any dangerous material including those that could disturb peace in the society would attract punitive action, said the minister.
The fact-checking unit would eventually be migrated to function under the home department that handles the police.