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Users Fall for ANI’s Fake Account Saying Twitter Shutting in India

ANI didn’t tweet any such information on its official handle and the viral tweet was from an imposter account.

Updated
WebQoof
5 min read
An imposter account of ANI falsely claimed that Twitter will stop its operation in India from Wednesday, 26 May.
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A tweet shared by an imposter account of news agency ANI has led to many believing that Twitter will shut its operations in India from Wednesday, 26 May.

This comes in the backdrop of the deadline to comply with legal rules meant for social media platforms, which were issued by the government three months ago, coming to an end on Tuesday, 25 May, posing a threat to the operations of the likes of Twitter and Facebook in India.

However, we found that ANI didn’t tweet any such information on its official handle and the viral tweet was from a fake account, which has now been taken down.

CLAIM

The tweet shared by ‘@ANINewsIndia’ reads: “#Breaking...Twitter will stop operations in India w.e.f 26th May 00:00 hrs. Use of any VPN, third party API will be treated as criminal offence under section 437. (sic)”

Users Fall for ANI’s Fake Account Saying Twitter Shutting in India
(Source: Twitter/ Screenshot)

Several Twitter users including journalist Swati Chaturvedi and Newslaundry Co-Founder Abhinandan Sekhri shared the viral tweet. However, they later took it down.

The archived posts of other social media users sharing the viral claim can be found here, here and here.

ANINEWSINDIA IS AN IMPOSTER ACCOUNT OF ANI

We came across the account details of Twitter handle @ANINewslndia with the help of a screenshot shared by Twitter user Karthik Srinivasan.

On comparing the official handle of news agency ANI with the imposter one, we noticed several discrepancies. For instance, the Twitter handle of ANI’s official account is ‘@ANI’ but that of the imposter one is ‘@ANINewslndia’.

The official account is a verified one, has a cover photo, and over five million followers, however, that’s not the case when it comes to the imposter account.

Left: Imposter account of ANI; Right: Official account of ANI
Left: Imposter account of ANI; Right: Official account of ANI
(Photo: Altered by The Quint)

Further, the imposter account was created in 2020, while the official one joined Twitter in 2011.

IMPOSTER ACCOUNT CHANGED DETAILS AFTER BEING CALLED OUT

Firstly, the imposter Twitter account used small ‘L’ and not capital ‘I’ in the word ‘India’ in its handle name ‘@ANINewslndia.’

We searched on Twitter using the imposter account’s handle with small ‘L’ and came across conversations in which the handle had been mentioned.

The imposter account in question changed the name of its account and its Twitter handle to ‘@parodyakkount’ after being called out by several users. In one of the conversations seen below, we noticed ‘@parodyakkount’ being mentioned instead of ‘@ANINewslndia.’

Users Fall for ANI’s Fake Account Saying Twitter Shutting in India
(Photo: Altered by The Quint)
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COMPARISON OF VIRAL TWEET WITH THE ONE AFTER IMPOSTER ACCOUNT DETAILS WERE CHANGED

We drew a comparison between the screenshot shared by Karthik Srinivasan of the viral tweet and the one captured by The Quint’s WebQoof team after the account name and handle had been changed and found several similarities.

For instance, the time stamp of 04:39 pm and the dateline are same in both the cases. Even the display picture is the same.

Left: Viral tweet. Right: Tweet after account details were changed.
Left: Viral tweet. Right: Tweet after account details were changed.
(Photo: Altered by The Quint)

We compared the account details of the handle @ANINewslndia with @parodyakkount and found that several details matched. Both of them didn’t follow anybody and both were created in May 2020.

It is pertinent to note that Twitter account @parodyakkount has also been deleted.

Left: Account information before details were changed. Right: Account information after details were changed.
Left: Account information before details were changed. Right: Account information after details were changed.
(Photo: Altered by The Quint)

Minutes after The Quint’s WebQoof team had captured the aforementioned screenshots, the imposter account changed its display picture as well.

Users Fall for ANI’s Fake Account Saying Twitter Shutting in India
(Source: Twitter/ Screenshot)

WHAT WERE SOME OF THE LAST TWEETS SHARED BY IMPOSTER ACCOUNT?

A look at some of the last tweets of the account ‘@parodyakkount’ showed that it took a dig at verified accounts falling for the viral tweet. It had also retweeted few tweets that tagged ‘@ANINewslndia’ in them.

Users Fall for ANI’s Fake Account Saying Twitter Shutting in India
(Source: Twitter/ Screenshot)

Evidently, an imposter account of ANI falsely claimed that Twitter will stop its operation in India from Wednesday, 26 May.

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WHAT IS HAPPENING BETWEEN TECH GIANTS AND GOVT?

Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and others, were required to abide by the rules notified in the Gazette of India on 25 February under Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code Rules, 2021, that are scheduled to come into force on Wednesday, 26 May.

In a statement to The Quint, Facebook says that it 'aims to comply' and will continue to discuss the issues with the government on the new IT Rules.

“We aim to comply with the provisions of the IT Rules and continue to discuss a few of the issues, which need more engagement with the government. Pursuant to the IT Rules, we are working to implement operational processes and improve efficiencies. Facebook remains committed to people’s ability to freely and safely express themselves on our platform.”
Facebook Spokesperson

Meanwhile, Twitter, which has not complied with the new rules yet, declined to comment, when contacted by The Quint. Tech giants Google and YouTube on Tuesday, 25 May, assured the Indian government of their intention to comply with the Centre’s new digital rules.

Further, Facebook-owned WhatsApp has moved the Delhi High Court challenging the Centre’s new digital rules, Reuters reported, quoting sources.

(Update: The story has been updated to reflect additional details about the imposter account of news agency ANI)

(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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