WebQoof Recap: Of Misinformation on WB Violence & COVID ‘Cures’
Here’s a round up of all that misled the public this week.
From old and unrelated videos and photos being shared as recent outbreak of violence in West Bengal post Trinamool Congress' victory in the 2021 Assembly Elections, to misleading claims around COVID-19 causes and 'cures', here's what misled the public this week.
1. Death of Woman in WB Falsely Communalised and Given Political Spin
Several social media users claimed that a college student was allegedly raped and killed by “peaceful masons” and linked it to the violence that ensued after Trinamool Congress (TMC) won the recently concluded Assembly elections.
BJP’s Saumitra Khan too shared the viral images with a claim that the college student was raped and killed by “goons.” He further linked the incident to Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras case that took place in September 2020 and wrote, "there was political juice (motive) in Hathras, but not in Medinipur?"
We searched for news reports on the incident and came across an article by Anandabazar Patrika that was published on 4 May and mentioned that the incident took place in Pingla area in Paschim Medinipur, West Bengal.
We got in touch with a local reporter and police officers who denied any communal or political angle to the incident and said that none of the three arrested are Muslims.
“None of the accused are Muslims. Out of the three arrested, two men are adivasis and one woman belongs to Hindu community. The accused have been identified as 27-year-old Bikash Murmu, 35-year-old Chootu Munda and 37-year-old Tapati Patra.”Sankha Chatterjee, Sub-inspector, Pingla police station
Evidently, an incident of a woman being allegedly raped and killed was communalised by many social media users with some falsely claiming that there is a political angle to it.
2. BJP Falsely Uses Scribe’s Photo as Party Worker ‘Killed’ in WB
Amid various instances of post-poll violence in West Bengal, the official Facebook page of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) West Bengal unit shared a 5-minute long video blaming the Trinamool Congress (TMC) for the violence. The video goes on to show pictures of workers, which the party has alleged were killed by ‘the TMC workers in the last 72 hours’.
At around 2 minutes 35 seconds, the video shows the photograph of a young man and identifies him as ‘Manik Moitro’, who the party claims was killed during the violence. Only the man in the photo is Abhro Banerjee, a journalist, who is very much alive.
Abhro Banerjee took to Twitter to clarify that he is alive and not in Kolkata.
“BJP IT Cell is now claiming I am Manik Moitra and died in Sitalkuchi. Please don't believe these fake posts and please don't worry. I repeat: I am (still) alive,” he wrote.
Hours later, BJP’s issued a statement and said Banerjee’s photo was “erroneously” included while using an article by him as “source for the content”.
3. Putting Lemon Juice in Nose Can’t Cure COVID-19, Claim is False
While the country is reeling under the second and deadlier wave of COVID-19, misinformation and false claims around alleged cures of the disease are also going viral.
One such claim going massively viral on different social platform claims that putting two drops of lemon juice in the nose will cure one of COVID-19.
We reached out to Dr Vikas Maurya, Director and HOD, Pulmonology, Fortis Hospital Shalimar Bagh. Dr Maurya dismissed the claim and said that the putting lemon drops in the nose will not cure one of COVID-19.
“No, there is no such thing. You need to be very careful if you think you have symptoms. The first thing is isolate yourself and then get tested. Connect with a doctor if you test positive and get treated according to what he/she suggests. By putting lemon drops in your nasal passage you will not get rid of corona," Dr Maurya said.
We also spoke with an Ayurvedic doctor, Dr Anirudh Mohite, Co-founder of Ayurveda Growth at NirogStreet. Dr Mohite, too, dismissed the claim and said that putting lemon juice in a sensitive area like the inside of the nose could do more harm than good.
“There is no mention of treating a disease by putting lemon juice in the nose anywhere in Ayurveda. The inside of the nose is very sensitive and in this case, putting lemon juice in the nose can also cause ulcer problems, because lemon contains citric acid.”Dr Anirudh Mohite, Co-founder of Ayurveda Growth at NirogStreet
The claim that COVID-19 can be cured by putting lemon juice in the nostrils is false. People should follow COVID-appropriate behaviour to avoid getting infected and if one starts showing symptoms, they should immediately isolate themselves and reach out to a doctor for advice. Self-medicating could lead to harmful side effects.
4. Old, Altered Video Shared as TMC Workers Celebrating With Weapons
An altered video of people dancing with guns and swords has been shared by several social media users with a claim that it shows Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers celebrating their victory in the West Bengal Assembly elections 2021.
Using the InVID WeVerify Google Chrome extension, we extracted some keyframes and ran a reverse image search of some of the keyframes. While going through the search results, we came across a post on YouTube that had the same video.
The video, which was posted on 7 October 2020, had a different audio than what the viral video had.
We also found the same video posted on an Instagram page called @raj_creation_official. The user posted that video on 25 September 2020. That video, too, had a different audio.
While we have not been able to ascertain the location of the video or identify the original audio, it is clear that the audio Khela Hobe (let’s play) was added later to the video.
Khela Hobe was widely used during the campaigning for the 2021 West Bengal Assembly elections by the TMC.
5. 5G Testing Caused the Second COVID Wave? Viral Post Lacks Evidence
Social media platforms are once again abuzz with conspiracy theories around 5G and the COVID-19 pandemic.
One such claim asserts that the second wave of COVID-19 in India is due to the testing of 5G towers. The claim goes on to state that “just like the previous generation of mobile networks (4G) killed birds, the 5G network will cause the end of animals and humans”. The post asks people to protest against setting up of these towers.
The trials for 5G network are at a nascent stage in India and telecom companies are still waiting for the nod from the Department of Telecommunication (DoT). A report published in The Economic Times on 30 March 2021 said that “DoT is yet to schedule India’s maiden 5G spectrum sale”.
Another report published in The Economic Times on 12 March added that only Bharti Airtel had started the development of 5G network technology and had started limited testing. Other companies like Reliance Jio, Vodafone and the BSNL are still waiting for the DoT's clearance.
A Qualcomm report published in December 2020, that talked about the global allocated/targeted 5G spectrum, showed that India had not allocated any of the 5G spectra. However, COVID-19 cases have been reported in the country since March 2020.
The Qualcomm report also mentioned other countries using its 5G network. Despite using 5G networks, countries like Australia, New Zealand and South Korea have fewer coronavirus cases than India.
The WHO, too, has denied that there is any connection between 5G and COVID-19 and said, “Viruses cannot travel via radio waves/mobile networks. COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have 5G mobile networks,”
Evidently, there is no evidence to prove that 5G networks have any relationship with the spread of the coronavirus.
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