Fact Check: Of Late, The News That Got Widely Shared But Were Not True
April 14th, 2017
In a social-media-driven generation, each of us at some point has shared such news on our Facebook timelines that had left us curious, or that we felt mattered.
Sitting at our desktops, we accept any news that is thrown at us with utmost trust, especially when it is reshared by credible media houses.
1) “Women no longer need to change their names in passports after marriage”: PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday made the following two statements with respect to the passport.
- It is not mandatory for a woman to submit her marriage certificate or divorce decree while applying for passport
- A woman can choose whether the name in the passport should be of her mother or the father and not both parents.
Immediately, almost all the media houses including India Today, Zee News, Huffington Post, and India Times, misrepresented the statement and portrayed that PM Modi had made a statement which says “women no longer need to change their names in passports after marriage”, highlighting this as a “new” regulation.
Did the PM say anything about the maiden name?
The second statement of the Prime Minister was about a woman’s choice of having her mother’s or father’s name in the passport. The statement had nothing to do with retaining the maiden name. In fact, the PM’s statement was about another change in the rules made in December 2016. The change was made to make it easy for single parents to obtain passports for their children. Unlike earlier, the passport application form now requires the applicant to provide the name of father or mother or legal guardian, i.e., only one parent and not both. This would enable single parents to apply for passports for their children and to also issue passports where the name of either the father or the mother is not required to be printed at the request of the applicant. Earlier, it was mandatory to mention both the father’s & mother’s name in the passport application. Again, this rule is not just for a woman, but for any single parent.
Media houses, without verifying the credibility of the statement, took it as an opportunity to widely share the false news story among its users.
India Times wrote in its article, “PM Modi has just announced a good news for the newly-married couples who were planning their summer breaks for overseas, but are stuck up in the process of updating spouses’ names on their passports.”
However, this isn’t the first time that media houses have blindly (and sometimes, knowingly) broadcasted news with no legitimacy.
2) Uttar Pradesh CM Yoginath “ends caste-based reservation in private medical colleges”: India Today
On Wednesday, leading media house, India Today wrote an article on the newly-elected Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath’s move to remove caste-based reservation in private medical colleges of the state stating it as a progressive move.
It also gushed about the CM’s several other initiatives “for the betterment of the state and to end corruption.”
The magazine published the entire piece without attributing it to any source – individual or government department, and the article was picked by various other mainstream media houses with readership in thousands, including Times Group’s India Times and Zee Group’s News Nation and India.com.
College authorities countered the news published by these platforms.
“It is wrong to say that rules of reservation have been scrapped from the private medical and dental colleges. Reservation was never a part of the admission process in private sector medical and dental colleges as per the prevalent policy made in 2006. There has been no change in any policy whatsoever,” Director General of Medical Education, Dr VN Tripathi told Times Of India.
Even UP government officials denied the report.
India Today, through its “story”, reiterated this reality, giving CM Yogi Adityanath credit for something that never existed in the first place.
3) Modi’s India shining brighter in 2016 than in 2012 as per NASA reports: DNA India
Yesterday, NASA released a new global map which shows night-time view of India and surrounding areas. As per NASA, these maps show the clearest yet composite view of the patterns of human settlement across Earth.
Releasing a video, they stated, “NASA scientists have just released the first new global map of Earth at night since 2012. This nighttime look at our home planet, dubbed the Black Marble, provides researchers with a unique perspective of human activities around the globe. By studying Earth at night, researchers can investigate how cities expand, monitor light intensity to estimate energy use and economic activity, and aid in disaster response.”
While all media houses wrote about these shining maps, DNA took it up a notch. Giving its story the title “India 2012 v/s India 2016: These pics from NASA shows Modi’s India is shining bright”, DNA wrote “PM Modi’s ambitious rural electrification project has made significant headway in grassroots regions and we have ‘real NASA’ pictures.”
While the new map does look brighter, official data by the Ministry of Power, Central Electricity Authority, New Delhi reveals that India there are a total of 5,97,464 villages in India, of which the electrification was pending in about 3% of the villages – 18,452 villages, and roughly 97% of electrification across India was achieved before the present BJP Govt came into power.
DNA’s story was not only fake, it also disregards what ethical journalism stands for.
4) In Saudi Arabia, “men can eat their wives if they are hungry”: India Today’s Aaj Tak
On 10 April 2017, India Today’s Aaj Tak published a “news” on its official Facebook page, saying that a “recent” fatwa in Saudi Arabia lets “men eat their wives if they are hungry.” The media house later deleted the post.
This “news” was a one-and-half-year-old fake rumour which was ironically rubbished by India Today’s DailyO.
The definition of news is – a current piece of information which factual. However, Aaj Tak’s reasons for running an “old fake rumour” as “current news”, is unclear. Was the intent reader traction, or to develop anti-Muslim sentiment, or to just spread communal hatred? We remain baffled.
The Logical Indian Take
In this age of “breaking a news”, the credibility of a news has certainly gone for a toss. It is not the intent of The Logical Indian to demean, belittle or cast doubt on the credibility of the mentioned legacy media outlets. The media is the fourth pillar of democracy and it holds limitless influence in a vibrant democracy like India. However, when mainstream media outlets engage in popularising false or fake news stories – when the mainstream media does not take it upon itself to fact-check every bit of news story that it publishes, it can have disastrous consequences on the national debate. This is especially significant because we live in an era where WhatsApp forwards and tweets (that don’t require verification or are not bound by journalistic ethics) are getting undue traction and following. In such a time, if even reputed mainstream outlets give into the shouting matches and falsehoods of false news, it negatively affects us all.
Till now, The Logical Indian has been rubbishing unauthenticated news stories that were published by small platforms. But lately, the unconfirmed news stories & false news stories were published by mainstream media. The reports seem either planted or done with malicious intention. It questions the credibility of media and makes us question whom to believe. The Logical Indian appeals all the media outlets to be more responsible and ethical towards its readers and restore the faith in journalism.