The Rise of Staged Videos and Its Impact on India’s Society

Staged videos portraying false events and claims are fueling religious hate and misogyny in India’s society. These videos are created by amateur actors and are shared on social media platforms, often misleading viewers into believing that they depict real-life situations. This trend has gained popularity, particularly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power. The narratives in these videos target religious communities, particularly Hindus and Muslims, and encourage moral policing against women. This article explores the consequences of staged videos, the potential for real-life violence, the impact on minority communities, and the need for media literacy to combat the spread of disinformation.

India has seen a rise in tension between religious communities since the BJP came into power in 2014. Staged videos that depict individuals wearing burkas to kidnap children are contributing to these tensions. These videos spread misinformation and disinformation, leading to incidents where people have been attacked by mobs who believe the false narratives. The creators of these videos use disclaimers, often hidden or in a language not understood by viewers, to avoid legal consequences. They also incorporate tactics such as adding CCTV templates to make the videos appear more realistic. These manipulations of visuals and narratives make it difficult for viewers to distinguish fact from fiction.

The impact of these staged videos goes beyond misinformation. They deepen existing religious biases and contribute to structural violence against minority communities, particularly Muslims. The videos validate pre-existing beliefs and sentiments, leading to a further division in society. While the videos may not directly lead to physical violence, they perpetuate religious hate and amplify existing tensions.

One concerning aspect is the ease with which these videos go viral on social media platforms. Viewers, especially those with low media literacy, often share these videos believing they are in the public interest. Conservative audiences, in particular, tend to share these videos, further heightening the impact on society. This highlights the need for increased media literacy and critical thinking among social media users.

To combat the spread of staged videos, it is crucial to raise awareness and educate viewers on how to identify scripted content. Media organizations and fact-checkers play a crucial role in debunking false narratives and providing accurate information. They advise viewers to look out for camera angles, locations, reactions, and language used in the videos, which can reveal signs of staging. Multiple camera angles and uninterrupted footage are unlikely in real-life incidents.

Social media platforms also have a responsibility to address the spread of staged videos. Platforms like Facebook and YouTube have stated their policies against violent or misleading content, but there is room for improvement in enforcing these rules. It is important for these platforms to actively remove and monitor content that breaks their guidelines.

In conclusion, staged videos are contributing to religious hate and misogyny in India’s society. The dissemination of false narratives, particularly through social media platforms, has the potential to incite real-life violence and deepen existing divisions. Media literacy and critical thinking play a crucial role in combating the spread of disinformation. It is imperative for individuals to be cautious while consuming and sharing content, and for social media platforms to take proactive measures to address the spread of false narratives.