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.
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.
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.
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.
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)”.
Another screenshot showed more Twitter activity from the account.
Many people on Twitter fell for the accounts, believing them to be authentic accounts of the Indian-origin economist.
Some questioned the authenticity of the accounts.
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.
It is clear therefore that Abhijit Banerjee is not on Twitter and these accounts were fake ones.
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