The workshop participants pose for the group photograph at a Dhaka hotel.

Fake news and misinformation are a severe deterrence to the progress of any nation and it is of paramount importance for individuals to know how to discern fake news from authentic ones.

Speakers said this while participating in a workshop titled ‘Developing a Critical Understanding against Fake News & Disinformation’ at a Dhaka hotel on Tuesday.

Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) organised the workshop. The interactive workshop was attended by young professionals, students and youth representatives from various disciplines, a news release said.

Addressing the participants, BIPSS president retired major general ANM Muniruzzaman said, “The most prioritised target audience of misinformation is the youth. They are vulnerable and it is important for us to make sure they can distinguish between what is authentic and what is fake.”

He added that the impact of misinformation is absolutely pervasive and it touches all sections of society. This can lead to massive security implications and result in social destabilisation.

Ayesha Kabir, head of content at English Web of Prothom Alo, presented a keynote paper. Citing the rush of newsroom to publish breaking news, Ayesha suggested media outlets to deliver authentic content as it is crucial to let the readers and viewers able to learn the truth.

With the meteoric rise of fake news on trending social media apps, people now look to the mainstream media for accuracy of information, Ayesha Kabir noted.

Another keynote speaker Shafqat Munir, a BIPSS research fellow and head of the Bangladesh Centre for Terrorism Research, pointed out how the credibility of news information seemed more important during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Social media has the largest density of fake news and this is quite concerning,” he remarked.

Participants of the workshop voiced a number of opinions ranging from the responsibility of the state to ensure genuine media content to intentional publication of fake news by media outlets to bolster consumer viewership.

The workshop concluded with participants receiving certificates for their participation and new wisdom on how to combat misinformation, the release said.