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Abhijit Banerjee on Twitter? No, Economist Says Accounts Are Fake

Within hours of being created, they gained thousands of followers and amassed huge numbers of likes and retweets.

Published
WebQoof
4 min read
Within hours of being created, these Twitter accounts gained thousands of followers and amassed huge numbers of likes and retweets.
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Over the last few days, many accounts on Twitter claiming to be that of Indian origin Nobel Prize-winning economist Abhijit Banerjee have surfaced on the social media platform.

Within hours of being created, these accounts (@AbhijitBanrjee and @AbhijitBanerj) gained thousands of followers and their tweets amassed huge numbers of likes and retweets.

But they have now been called out as fake after a Banerjee clarified through a statement saying he was not on Twitter.

Abhijit Banerjee on Twitter? No, Economist Says Accounts Are Fake
(Photo: Screenshot/Twitter)
Abhijit Banerjee on Twitter? No, Economist Says Accounts Are Fake
(Photo: Screenshot/Twitter)

CLAIM

Two accounts on Twitter – @AbhijitBanrjee and @AbhijitBanerj – were created amid the news of Abhijit Banerjee’s video conference with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday, 5 May, which was telecast live on the Congress party’s social media handles.

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Screenshots of one of the accounts available on Twitter showed that the account, which seemed to have been created at some point on Tuesday, 5 May, had announced Banerjee’s arrival on the social media platform which received at least 16.5k likes and over 1,200 retweets.

Abhijit Banerjee on Twitter? No, Economist Says Accounts Are Fake
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

One screenshot showed that the account had retweeted the economist’s conversation with Rahul Gandhi with the caption, “It was nice talking to RahulGandhi & it was very positive (sic)”.

Abhijit Banerjee on Twitter? No, Economist Says Accounts Are Fake
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

Another screenshot showed more Twitter activity from the account.

Abhijit Banerjee on Twitter? No, Economist Says Accounts Are Fake
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

Many people on Twitter fell for the accounts, believing them to be authentic accounts of the Indian-origin economist.

An archived version of this page can be seen <a href="http://archive.is/5kuOo">here</a>.
An archived version of this page can be seen here.
(Photo: Screenshot/Twitter)
An archived version can be seen <a href="http://archive.vn/6aNxp">here</a>.
An archived version can be seen here.
(Photo: Screenshot/Twitter)

Some questioned the authenticity of the accounts.

An archived version of this tweet can be seen <a href="http://archive.is/8U6DH">here</a>.
An archived version of this tweet can be seen here.
(Photo: Screenshot/Twitter)

WHAT WE FOUND

Both these accounts, and any other accounts created in the name of Abhijit Banerjee are fake. The economist has not joined Twitter.

On looking at both the accounts, we found that both the accounts had usernames such as @AbhijitBanrjee and @AbhijitBanerj, which were red flags.

Moreover, clarifications started pouring in on Wednesday from various verified accounts which carried statements from Banerjee himself wherein he said that these accounts were impersonating him and that he was not on Twitter.

Among those issuing clarifications on behalf of Banerjee were Trinamool Congress leader from West Bengal Mahua Moitra, renowned historian Ramachandra Guha and Chiki Sarkar, owner of publishing firm Juggernaut Books which has published his work.

BBC journalist Soutik Biswas also took to Twitter with a clarification from Banerjee.

Former journalist and now full-time RTI activist Saket Gokhale also shared the clarification on Twitter.

Speaking to News18, Banerjee said that he had lodged a complaint with Twitter and hoped that they would “do the needful”.

Sure enough, we checked and found that both the viral accounts had been suspended by Twitter for violating rules of the platform.

Abhijit Banerjee on Twitter? No, Economist Says Accounts Are Fake
(Photo: Screenshot/Twitter)
Abhijit Banerjee on Twitter? No, Economist Says Accounts Are Fake
(Photo: Screenshot/Twitter)

It is clear therefore that Abhijit Banerjee is not on Twitter and these accounts were fake ones.

You can read all our coronavirus fact-checks here.

(Not convinced of a post or information you came across online and want it verified? Send us the details on WhatsApp at 9643651818, or e-mail it to us at webqoof@thequint.com and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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