We are the internet generation that tends to trust information circulated on its social media feed, WhatsApp messages, web searches, and general online news from sources that we consider legitimate.
Sitting at our desktops and smartphones, we mostly accept the news throw at us without verifying its genuineness.
Here is a breakdown of fake/false stories that circulated on social media and was shared by media houses and public personalities to spread misinformation in the past week.
1. There is no double tax under GST on credit card payments
After the GST rollout on July 1, a message claiming that utility bills for services like mobile, gas, telephone, electricity will attract GST twice if the payment is made using credit cards.
The message informed that GST will be levied once on the utility bill for the particular service, and then for a second time on the amount billed on the credit card. It suggested that consumers switch to paying these bills on cash.
However, the information was completely false.
Revenue Secretary Dr Hasmukh Adhia took to Twitter to clarify the same and end the rumours.
1/2 A wrong message is doing rounds on social media that if u make payment of utility bills by credit cards,you will be paying GST twice.
— Dr Hasmukh Adhia (@adhia03) July 2, 2017
2/2 This is completely untrue. Please do not recirculate such message without checking it with authority.
— Dr Hasmukh Adhia (@adhia03) July 2, 2017
Fake news de-bunker, BOOM, explained that credit card bill payments never attracted service charge if they were paid on time. The tax was only applicable on annual charges, interest payment, processing fees of EMIs and not on the billed amount. Also, if one paid the bill late, service tax would be applied to the late fee and interest charges.
Service tax was previously charged at 15%, which has now been increased to 18% under the GST regime.
2. Rumours spread on Twitter that Muslims set ablaze Shamli Police Station and paraded Dalits naked on the streets
On July 2, a post claiming that Muslims set on fire Shamli Police Station in Uttar Pradesh and paraded Dalits naked on the streets was making rounds on Twitter.
Shamli Police debunked the news and clarified that no such incident had taken place.
There is no such incident. dont spread rumors. pic.twitter.com/LhuOBw2F7s
— shamli police (@shamlipolice) July 2, 2017
The Authorities also said that legal proceedings will be taken against the culprits after a few users urged the police to take strict action.
3. Media houses fell for a piece of satire claiming that death sentence was given to Pakistani man as he farted in mosques during Ramadan
World News Daily Report published a satirical article on its website saying:
The website carries a disclaimer at the bottom of every page stating that their content is entirely satirical and fictional, meaning – not meant to be taken seriously.
The photo used by World Daily News Report in its article is of Behnam Yaali – a man accused of murdering his former girlfriend in Canada.
The article, meant for humour only, was widely believed by numerous people on social media.
Not just this, the story was also picked up by many mainstream news portals. They converted the article into the regional language of the state they operate from and published it as a legitimate news piece.
4. Photoshopped image of an Indian flag atop the Israeli Parliament
On July 4, Narendra Modi became the first ever Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel. This was taken as an opportunity by fake news websites to play the nationalism and patriotism of Indian citizens to their advantage.
An image of the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, showing the Indian flag alongside that of Israel has was doing rounds on social media.
The Youth, which describes itself as “a team of three aggressive nationalist students”, made this post:
The image was also shared by the unpopular fake news website Postcard News.
Fake news de-bunker SM Hoax Slayer revealed that the image was, in fact, photoshopped and the real image of the Israeli Parliament is clicked by James Emery and it’s this:
5. Fake news of Churches burnt in India
Non-Indian accounts spread a false story on social media that that 20 Churches were burnt down in India in order to “kill missionaries”.
However, the posts were completely false and debunked.
Fake news about churches burnt in India is viral on social media, the accounts in question are non-Indian accounts.~ Pratik Sinha ✔ @free_thinker
Fake news about churches burnt in India is viral on social media, the accounts in question are non-Indian accounts. pic.twitter.com/jKR6oxCn8h
— Pratik Sinha (@free_thinker) July 5, 2017
6. BJP’s Vijeta Malik posts picture from a Bhojpuri film to depict the plight of Hindus in West Bengal amidst the communal violence
Haryana state executive of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Vijeta Malik shared this post on Facebook to show the fate of Hindus in West Bengal where communal violence erupted due to an objectionable Facebook post:
Malik said in her post in Hindi that Hindus in West Bengal were victims of atrocities and she asked why they were being targeted. She added that the community was being maligned in public and CM Mamata Banerjee was a mute spectator to the ongoing violence.
However, the picture she shared is a still from a Bhojpuri film – ‘Aurat Khilona Nahi’, thus a complete misrepresentation to incite hatred in people.
Creating or sharing fake news is never justified. We have a responsibility to verify everything that we post on the internet. To ensure that our national debate is healthy and well-informed, each and every one of us has a responsibility of treating what we read with a pinch of salt, a spoonful of doubt, and a flood of research.