No, China’s Xinhua News Did Not Mock India’s Coronavirus Response
Indian social media users appear to have fallen for a parody account. Here’s how we know.
As the world wrestles with the novel coronavirus pandemic that spread outward from China’s Wuhan city, a tweet supposedly by China’s official state-run Xinhua news agency caused outrage on Indian social media. It reads: “Coronavirus finally died today in India due to shock.”
The video with the tweet shows a woman clanging a plate with a spoon and chanting “Go corona go”. The tweet, shared on Sunday, 22 March, came on the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced as the day the Indian public should observe a 'janata curfew’, in which citizens were asked to clap and bang pots and pans at 5 pm to express gratitude to frontline health workers during the pandemic.
Punit Agarwal, head of BJP Delhi’s social media, replied to the tweet with outrage. His reply had garnered over 1,000 likes and 300 comments at the time of publishing this article.
Several social media users shared the tweet on Facebook and Twitter, attributing it to China’s official news agency.
WHAT’S THE TRUTH?
The account in question is a parody of the Xinhua news agency, and there are a few noticeable red flags that indicate it’s a fake.
Firstly, the account handle of the parody account is @x_xinhua, whereas the one of the actual account is @XHNews.
Secondly, in terms of reach, Xinhua’s actual account has over 12 million followers – makes sense, as it is the official news agency of the world’s most populous country. The parody account, however, has only around 4,500 followers.
Third, the actual account is a verified account with a blue tick, but the parody account is not a blue-tick account.
Fourth, we analysed the kind of content that was shared by the parody account and found that there were several tweets in the which the account taken a dig at the BJP IT Cell – an unusual line to take for an official state-run news agency. The fake account has also tweeted memes about the collapse of India’s Yes Bank, on the recent communal violence in Delhi.
Meanwhile, the official handle of Xinhua news agency has been tweeting about coronavirus-related news from China and across the globe.
One also notices other relevant discrepancies: The official handle is being followed by the accounts of the Spokesperson’s office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China (@MFA_China) and the Mission of China (@ChinaEUMission) which is the mission of the People's Republic of China to the European Union.
But, these accounts are not following the parody account.
Observing this combination of red flags, it is apparent that many of India’s social media users have fallen for a joke tweet from a parody account.
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