A Round-Up of The Fake News Stories You Almost Believed in 2018
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)

A Round-Up of The Fake News Stories You Almost Believed in 2018

2018 has been an eventful year in the world of news, what with four elections and several other big stories. And where there's news there is also a lot of fake news, countering the mainstream narrative.

So before we bid adieu to 2018, let's take a look back at some of the fake news stories WebQoof helped bust.

1. Kathua Rape: Exposing a Viral List of Lies From Ground Zero

As the protests grow, so does the need to differentiate between what is true from what is outrightly false.
As the protests grow, so does the need to differentiate between what is true from what is outrightly false.
(Photo: Altered by The Quint)

The year began with the disturbing news of an eight-year-old being raped repeatedly and then bludgeoned to death in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua. The infamous case gave fodder to several fake news pages, with a list of fake claims going viral.

The Quint's Aishwarya Iyer went on ground to Kathua to expose this series of fake news – right from supposed errors in the chargesheet to claims regarding the temple, which was also the crime scene.

The claims stemmed from a ShankNaad article, which had put out a series of false claims around the incident.

You can read the story here.

2. Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah’s Pakistan Trip: Fake News Strikes Again

This fake letter has been doing round on the social media, with the claim that money was being transported.
This fake letter has been doing round on the social media, with the claim that money was being transported.
(Photo: The Quint/Harsh Sahani)

In the run-up to the Karnataka election in May, fake news reared its ugly head, targeting outgoing CM and Congressman Siddaramaiah.

A viral letter was doing the rounds claiming that Siddaramaiah and Congress leader Zameer Ahmed had made a one-day trip to Karachi on 13 April, purportedly to transport money.

When The Quint contacted the person who had supposedly signed the letter – one Ashish Bhandouria – he said the letter was fake.

Further, the Karnataka CMO also dismissed the letter as Siddaramaiah was attending the Congress party's candidate selection meeting in New Delhi on 13 April.

You can read the story here.

3. Nehru – The Pivot For All Fake News in 2018

From Nehru having been attacked post the 1962 war to Nepal expressing a desire to accede to India, here’s the truth.
From Nehru having been attacked post the 1962 war to Nepal expressing a desire to accede to India, here’s the truth.
(Photo: Altered by The Quint)

From Nehru having supposedly claimed that he was "Muslim by culture and Hindu by accident", to him having demonetised currency notes with Netaji's photo, the country's first prime minister was the fodder for a lot of fake news the past year.

One particular post claimed that Nehru had said he was "Muslim by culture, and Hindu by accident." Of course, Nehru never said this and the quote was only falsely attributed to him. However, this did not stop people from believing it to be true, with a leading national daily even going on to publish it as their 'quote of the day.'

Nehru made 'fake news' yet again when SAD MLA Manjinder S Sirsa tweeted out a photo of a lady holding the former PM in an embrace from behind, giving him a peck on his cheek. Needless to say, the photo soon went viral. However, it was ascertained that the woman in the photo was Nehru's niece Nayantara Sehgal, and the former was being kissed by her upon his arrival at the London airport in 1955.

Yet another viral claim concerning Nehru was that he had written a letter in December 1945 addressed to then England PM Clement Attlee, disclosing Subhas Chandra Bose's location. However, this claim was false. A photo of the supposed letter revealed several factual errors, including a spelling error in Attlee's name.

Also Read : Truth Behind Nehru’s Policies on the 1962 War, the UNSC & Nepal

4. PM Modi's Schemes & Fake News Go Hand-in-Hand

Message claiming free distribution of cycles to students by PM Modi on 15 August is fake. 
Message claiming free distribution of cycles to students by PM Modi on 15 August is fake. 
(Photo: Altered by The Quint)

PM Modi's many schemes was yet another hotbed for fake news. There were fake WhatsApp messages asking users to apply for the 'Ayushman Bharat' scheme, there were claims that a premium was being demanded for the scheme, and of course there was a fleecing website that sought to take all your personal details.

Apart from this there was a message that claimed the PM was giving away Rs 10k to girl children via the Sukanya Yojana, and another Rs 12000 as reward for the applicants of the PM Awas Yojana. These claims too were debunked as fake.

Then there was the claim that the Prime Minister was introducing a scholarship scheme for class 10 and 12 students across the country. Similarly, he was also supposedly giving away cycles to students on Independence Day. But, of course, both these claims were called out as fake.

5. Statue of Unity and Fake News Factories

Many social media posts claim that PSUs paid Rs 2,500 crore for the Statue of Unity out of their CSR funds. 
Many social media posts claim that PSUs paid Rs 2,500 crore for the Statue of Unity out of their CSR funds. 
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@PMOIndia)

PM Modi unveiled the Statue of Unity on 31 October, opening along with it a barrage of fake news.

The first piece of fake news around the statue surfaced a few days before the inauguration, after a viral photograph showed two street urchins eating food near the statue to showcase the disparity between the two realities. Only, the photo of the street urchins was fake and had been superimposed onto a photo of the Statue of Unity.

The second claim was regarding a signboard at the statue which reportedly had wrong Tamil translations. The signboard was later removed. Another viral message regarding the statue claimed that PSUs had paid close to Rs 2,500 crores for the construction of the statue. However,a deep dive into the CAG report from 2018 showed that a total of Rs 146.83 crore was spent by 5 PSUs towards the construction of the statue.

Another viral post claimed that merely a month after its inauguration, the Statue of Unity had developed cracks. It was however ascertained that the 'cracks' were only just markings from the places where two blocks of metal had been fused together to structure the statue.

Also Read : Pritish Nandy Tweets A Photo of ‘Statue of Unity’. Only, It Isn’t!

6. The Web of WhatsApp Scams

A WhatsApp message is doing the rounds that tries to hoax people by offering 99 percent discount on Amazon Shopping.
A WhatsApp message is doing the rounds that tries to hoax people by offering 99 percent discount on Amazon Shopping.
(Photo altered by The Quint)

With great sales comes great scope for fake news – and that certainly is true for the bosses of big sales like Amazon and Flipkart.

A viral message on WhatsApp had once claimed that a 99 percent discount was being offered at the Amazon online mall. There however was no such, and the message served as the gateway to a phishing site.

PayTM too fell prey to a similar claim after a scam consisting of a simple four question quiz did the rounds on WhatsApp, claiming that one could earn up to Rs 1,000 as PayTM cash by taking the quiz.

7. Before & After Pic of Clean Varanasi Ghats Post Modi Govt is Fake!

The original picture is of the ghats of Shipra the river, before and after they were cleaned for the Kumbh mela. 
The original picture is of the ghats of Shipra the river, before and after they were cleaned for the Kumbh mela. 
(Photo: Canva/The Quint)

In June, a before and after picture of the 'Varanasi' ghats was viral with the tagline: "This is how Modi changed Varanasi in one year."

However, the post was misleading as the 'after' picture was not of the ghats of Varanasi but the ghat of Ujjain, ad the river in question was not Ganga but river Shipra.

You can read the story here.

8. Hoax Alert! Paracetamol Tablets Do Not Contain ‘Machupo’ Virus

The Machupo virus has so far only been documented in South America.
The Machupo virus has so far only been documented in South America.
(Photo: Altered by The Quint)

A viral message had claimed that Paracetamol tablets contained the 'Machupo' virus, and hence must not be consumed. The message had caused quite a scare among people.

However, when The Quint reached out to Dr Jyothi Joshi Jain from the Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy, she clarified that no cases of the virus had been reported in India and should it be present, it would not go unnoticed – given India's strict quality control process.

You can read the story here.

9. Oral Polio Vaccine Contaminated But Safe! Don’t Fall for Fake News

While there are reports of the vaccine having been contaminated with the virus, it is not ‘unsafe’ for administration.
While there are reports of the vaccine having been contaminated with the virus, it is not ‘unsafe’ for administration.
(Photo: Altered by The Quint)

Yet another health scare in 2018 revolved around the ever crucial oral polio vaccine. After reports of contamination in the OPV, a viral message dissuaded parents from administering the vaccine to their children.

However, Dr Joshi told The Quint that despite the contamination the vaccine would continue to remain safe for administration through other manufacturers, whose samples had not been contaminated.

You can read the story here.

10. No, Saudi Arabian Activist Israa Has Not Been Executed

 The shared post also included a photo that claimed to be of the activist but is actually of another person.
The shared post also included a photo that claimed to be of the activist but is actually of another person.
(Photo: Altered by The Quint)

2018 saw a lot of fake news around the supposed beheading of women rights activists in Saudi Arabia, especially after the crowning of the new prince Mohammed bin Salman who had presented himself as a reformer of 'strict moral codes for women in the country'.

One such post claimed that activist Israa al-Ghomgham, who had been arrested in 2015, had been beheaded.

However, it was soon discerned that the purported video that was going viral was from 2015.

You can read the story here.

(Not convinced of a story you came across on social media and want it verified? Send us the details at WebQoof@TheQuint.com and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

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