WebQoof 2017: Here’s a List of Fake News That Broke Your Newsfeed
The phrase ‘fake news’  reportedly saw a 365 percent rise in usage in the last 12 months. Image used for representative purposes.
The phrase ‘fake news’  reportedly saw a 365 percent rise in usage in the last 12 months. Image used for representative purposes.(Photo: iStock)

WebQoof 2017: Here’s a List of Fake News That Broke Your Newsfeed

‘Fake news’, a term popularised by US President Donald Trump, was named the word of the year by Collins dictionary due to its widespread use around the world.

The word reportedly saw a 365 percent rise in usage over the last 12 months.

“In India, a nation with 355 million Internet users, false news stories have become a part of everyday life, exacerbating weather crises, increasing violence between castes and religions, and even affecting matters of public health,” wrote Washington Post, regarding the fake news menace in India.

Like other years, fake news stories caught on the internet like wildfire. But unlike other years, fake news was also widely busted in 2017.

Here’s The Quint’s roundup of Webqoof, ie, fake news stories that were busted in 2017.

1. The Photo of Yogi Adityanath Drinking Cow Urine on Twitter is Fake

At a time when talk around the cow – including the virtues (or lack thereof) of drinking cow urine – has occupied centrestage, a fake photo has cropped up on social media, showing UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath supposedly drinking cow urine.

The original picture showed the BJP leader drinking water from a hand pump. In the fake photo, a cow has been superimposed in front of the hand pump to make it seem like Adityanath is drinking cow urine.

Along with various others, prominent journalist Tavleen Singh seems to have been taken in by the hoax as she shared the picture on her Twitter account:

(Read the entire story here.)

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2. AMU Not Serving Food to Hindus During Ramzan? Here’s the Truth

A religious debate erupted on Twitter when people started sharing posts that said Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) was not serving food to Hindus during the month of Ramzan.

The debate began when an advocate at Delhi High Court, Prashant Patel, wrote the following on Twitter.

Omar Peerzada, who is the PRO of the University, told The Quint that the news was incorrect. Peerzada said that the AMU administration had instructed the mess authorities to provide food to non-fasting students on demand.

He said that this was not something new and has been practised for a long time now. Lunch was not served in hostels if the student does not demand it during the month of Ramzan, owing to the age-old practice and the fact that very few people eat during the day.

(Read full story here.)

3. Rs 17,000 Crore Seized From ‘Under Sasikala’s Home’! Or Was It?

A set of photos with the caption, “Tunnel found under Sasikala’s house in TN. Loads of black money and gold unearthed,” have been doing the rounds on social media and WhatsApp groups.

The posts claim that a significant amount of cash and gold was recovered from the properties of jailed AIADMK leader VK Sasikala.

A quick fact check, however, reveals that the photos are fake and have been taken from bank robberies in Navi Mumbai and I-T raids in Delhi a couple of days back.

The photos with the Rs 200, 500 and 2,000 notes have been taken from an Income Tax department raid in New Delhi on 17 November, 2017. Publications including The Times of India and India Today carried stories on the same. The raids were conducted on the Delhi residence of National Stock Exchange (NSE) broker Sanjay Gupta, during the ongoing searches related to OPG Group in the co-location case.

(Read full story here.)

4. Verified Pak Handle Suspended For Tweeting Fake Photo of Indian

Microblogging platform Twitter suspended Pakistan's verified Defence handle on 18 November, Saturday, after they used a fake picture of an Indian girl.

The picture showed a woman holding a placard, outside Jama Masjid in New Delhi, with the message that read “India is a colonial entity” and that she “hated” the country.

The photo was tweeted with a message that Indians were “finally realising that their country was a colonial entity”.

The woman in the photo is Kawalpreet Kaur, a student activist of Delhi University, who took to Twitter to say that Pakistan had a “real security concern” if morphed photos are used to “spread hate across nations”.

(Read full story here.)

5. Fake Video Claiming Bengaluru Airport Was Flooded, Is From Mexico

A 28-second video showing a flooded tarmac of an airport has been doing the rounds on social media, especially in Bengaluru. The video was said to be taken at Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) following torrential rains.

Bengaluru International Airport Limited, which operates KIA, has categorically said that no flooding has been reported at the airport. Further scrutiny has also revealed that the video was, in fact, taken at an airport in Mexico.

The two videos claiming the same have not been deleted from YouTube yet. The videos were uploaded on 7 and 15 October by Amazing Original Videos and Ashok Kumar.

(Read full story here.)

6. BJP’s Nupur Sharma Asks to ‘#SaveBengal’ Using 2002 Riots Image

BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma created quite a storm on Twitter after she shared a photo from the 2002 Gujarat riots to call people for a protest in Jantar Mantar against the recent communal violence in the Basirhat area of West Bengal.

This, on the same day that Kolkata police arrested a Class 11 student for posting fake images on his Facebook post that triggered the violence in West Bengal.

This is the tweet Sharma posted on Saturday, using an provocative image to protest against the “falling value of human life”. She even used the hashtag #SaveHindus, giving the post a communal tone.

(Read full story here.)

7. Debunked: CJ Post Spews Vile Propaganda Using Caste & Indian Army

A vice largely exclusive to the Indian subcontinent, the caste system has been part of public discourse and anything having headlines like the above tends to be clicked, especially on social media, where it ends up getting stuck in an echo chamber.

The post, shared by a website called CJ (Classified Journal) Post, popped up on Facebook on 23 May, got 2,900-odd reactions, was shared over 12,000 times, and most importantly, got a whopping 3,54,000 views.

While one can’t deny that some of these claims of upper caste privilege at the expense of lower castes have historically and generally held true, the simplistic and blunt manner in which they are posited – without citing any research, evidence and data – suggests divisive propaganda at work.

A claim such as Brahmins get free accommodation “wherever they want to live in India” is self-evidently fallacious. Another one, where it simply remarks, “The lower castes cannot get any job of high position at any media house…” lacks any citation or data, although a few recent reports have highlighted the lack of Dalits in the media: ‘Indian media wants Dalit news but not Dalit reporters’ (Al Jazeera); ‘Missing from the Indian newsroom’ (The Hindu).

(Read full story here.)

8. Col DK Rai’s 2008 Photo Being Used to Spread Propaganda, Again

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) had gone all out against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s government and called for an indefinite strike and suspension of all government facilities in the hills. Not only had life been disrupted in the hills, there was also palpable public anger.

A photo of an ‘old man’ allegedly being attacked during the protests went viral on social media. The post alleges that Mamata had allowed lathicharging against the soldiers who had fought the Indo-China war in 1962.

The man in the photo is actually Col DK Rai, who commanded the 6/8 Gorkha Rifles. Only, Col Rai passed away on 29 March 2017.

He was, however, attacked by the police during the Gorkhaland protest in 2008. And contrary to social media fury against Mamata that followed the post, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, the veteran CPI(M) leader, was the chief minister of West Bengal when Col Rai was attacked.

(Read more here.)

9. Fake News! Photo of Activist Wrongly Used as a ‘Rohingya Criminal’

Sudarshan TV, a Hindi television news channel, used a photo of a disabled man being dragged by a Bangladesh police officer, alleging that the man was a Rohingya criminal being dragged by cops.

Suresh Chavhanke, the Editor-in-Chief of the news channel, tweeted the link to the story, and his tweet was eventually retweeted over a hundred times.

However, the photo is actually that of an activist, and member of Gonojagoron Mancha, clicked during a protest in 2014, reported SMHoaxslayer.

The Mancha activists had reportedly gathered to hold a rally, protesting an attack on the Mancha supporters by some pro-Awami League people in 2014.

(Read full story here.)

10. Those Weren’t Indian Muslims Celebrating Pak’s Win in Viral Video

Pakistan’s victory over India in the ICC Champions Trophy Final left many Indians disappointed and also led to a case of sour grapes, where some Indians resorted to slandering the winning team.

A tweet claiming that Indian Muslims were celebrating Pakistan’s win, showing a video of what appeared to be fans bearing the flag of Pakistan, went viral.

SMHoaxSlayer pointed out that neither was the flag shown in the video that of Pakistan, nor was the so-called celebration one of Pakistan’s victory. The website, which debunks fake news, also clarified:

This video dates back to March 2017, and was certainly not recorded on Sunday. The flag shown in the video is not of Pakistan but of Islam. The Pakistani flag also features a white vertical stripe.

(Read full story here.)

11. No Electricity in Jama Masjid? Republic TV Shares Fake News

Inside Jama Masjid is a complete blackout” stated the Republic TV reporter as camera panned to the mosque. The crew then went outside Imam Bukhari’s residence, counting the number of parked cars and informing the viewers about the models.

What was so far fake news circulated by sites like Postcard News and ‘Hindutva’ handles on social media made it to national television.

In response to queries, BSES clarified that it is an old issue that was resolved long back.

(Read full story here.)

12. Pray For ‘Christian’ Prannoy Roy: How Fake Messages Stir Bigotry

A WhatsApp message titled ‘Urgent Prayer Request’ asking people to pray for Prannoy Roy, founder of New Delhi Television (NDTV), for being targeted by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was going viral.

The message alleges that Roy, who is born to a Bengali Hindu father and an Irish mother, is a member of the Redemption Cathedral in New Delhi.

However, the office of The Cathedral Church of the Redemption categorically denied that Roy was a member.

“It is utter nonsense. Don’t know where the message has come from,” Reverend Paul Swarup, Presbyter in Charge told BOOM.

(Read full story here.)

13. Jasleen Josen Clarifies After Fake News on NASA Selection

Has Jasleen Kaur Josan become the first Indian astronaut to join the 2030 Mars Mission? A tweet by Harsh Goenka, Chairman of RPG Enterprises, made this claim on 8 October that has subsequently gone viral with more than 1,700 retweets and 4,800 likes, at the time of writing this.

Not just Twitter, but a slew of sites also jumped on this viral news to celebrate the first ‘Indian’, first ‘Indian woman’, first ‘Indian Sikh woman’ who will leave for Mars in 2030.

While Josan’s achievements till date are noteworthy, the news about her selection for the first Mars project in 2030 is fake.

Calling herself an ‘Aspiring Astronaut’, the 25-year old Josan clarified in a Facebook post on 2 October that she is undergoing training to be officially called an ‘Astronaut’ and the 2030 Mars project is a long way from now, with no assurance on who will finally join the project.

(Read full story here.)

14. Fake News Claims Hot Oil Was Poured on Hindu Man, Sparks Violence

The death of a 21-year-old under mysterious circumstances on 6 December in Karnataka has led to violent protests in many parts of the state. Even though the cause of death is yet to be ascertained, fake news articles and social media messages – claiming torture and murder – have made the mysterious death into a communal issue.

The putrefied body of Paresh Kamalakar Mesta was found in a lake in Honnavar Taluk. As the body was highly decomposed, the post-mortem and viscera tests have been delayed. But before these test results were out, the fake news spread like wildfire.

These messages were soon picked up by senior BJP leaders and one of them, BJP District President KG Naik, claimed that a tattoo with the Hindu god Ram’s name on Paresh’s body was mutilated by the attackers.

A prominent TV channel published the fake news. The promo of the news item claimed that the victim was mutilated, burnt and injured using acid and hot oil, and the same allegations were made during the show as well.

(Real full story here.)

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