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 few days.
1) Pakistan’s blunder at the United Nations
Following External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s much-publicised speech at the United Nations General Assembly where she branded Pakistan as “Terroristan” and an “exporter of terrorism”, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN whipped out an image of a Gazan and claimed that it was an image of a Kashmiri victim of Indian security forces.
Pakistan’s envoy to UN criticized for using fake image to illustrate alleged Indian atrocities in #JammuandKashmir.
(Pic: UN) pic.twitter.com/lAy6BqF8L7
— All India Radio News (@airnewsalerts) September 25, 2017
— Dr. Ramy Abdu (@RamAbdu) March 27, 2015
The image Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi displayed was actually not a “pellet gun victim”. It was a photograph of a 17-year-old Gazan girl named Rawya abu Jom, who had been injured by shrapnel during an airstrike by Israeli forces. The picture was taken in July 2014 by American photojournalist Heidi Levine in July 2014 when she was covering the conflict (original image source).
The video of the Pakistan Ambassador’s speech can be viewed here (the moment where the Ambassador shows the image of the Gazan victim is at 6:39).
2) Increasingly, anti-Rohingya narrative pushed through fake images
The Rohingya refugee crisis has stirred a heated debate in India, with the government’s decision to deport all “illegal” Rohingya refugees generating mixed responses. Whatever be one’s opinion on how India should respond to the Rohingya refugee crisis, we should all agree that spreading false rumours on refugees is cheap, disgusting and never justified.
And yet, this is exactly what has been happening. Anti-Rohingya propaganda has relied on fake images and news stories to spread like wildfire on social media. The torchbearers of these lies have not spared even disease-stricken children from other countries to push their own agenda.
One such person was Prashant Patel Umrao, a Delhi High Court advocate with a verified Twitter account. Umrao tweeted an image of a Brazilian girl suffering from liver disease as a 9-12-year-old pregnant girl in a UN clinic “going to give birth to a child soon”. (Umrao has a long history of peddling fake news; a few examples can be read here.)
— BOOM FactCheck (@boomlive_in) September 25, 2017
Posted by Garrafão do Norte on Sunday, November 20, 2016
Another instance of defaming and character-assassinating starving and helpless refugees was when Ravinder Sangwan (@Shanknaad), who tweeted an image of a little girl holding an infant. Without providing any source, this man said the image was of a Rohingya girl: “14 years old has 2 kids. Her husband is 56 yrs. He has six wives with 18 children”.
Look at her innocence!!
Rohingya girl, 14 years old has 2 kids. Her husband is 56 yrs. He has six wives with 18 children ။ pic.twitter.com/9aqHly7viF
— Ravinder Sangwan (@Shanknaad) September 24, 2017
Rohingya girl, 14 years old has 2 babies. One is 2 years and the other is 5 months old .Her husband is 56 yrs. He has…
When @Shanknaad was asked for his source, he failed to provide any links. BOOM traced the image to a BBC video on Rohingyas fleeing violence in Myanmar. The girl is in the video (at 2:06) but only as a few seconds in a video shot. There is no context, no background, no story: the tweet, which was shared widely on Twitter and Facebook, was false in context and malignant in intent.
— BOOM FactCheck (@boomlive_in) September 24, 2017
3) BHU anti-student violence used to spread unrelated images
The police brutality at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) caused outrage across the nation. During this testing time, several unrelated images of injured youngsters were being shared to portray Modi’s UP or attack the Adityanath government in Lucknow.
As reported by Alt News, the fake image was shared by several people including Prashant Bhushan, Sanjay Singh, Ashok Gehlot, Mrinal Pandey and Swati Chaturvedi, to name a few.
Image on the left is being shared as a victim of lathi-charge in BHU. In reality, she was attacked reportedly because of a one-sided affair. pic.twitter.com/t6nNf1ecC4
— Alt News (@AltNews) September 24, 2017
To their credit, many personalities tweeted apologies for sharing images without verifying their authenticity or deleted their tweets.
Only the photo was pointed out by some to be fake, and has since been deleted.The news was correct and is still making headlines everywhere. https://t.co/gn5tJxRCgj
— Mrinal Pande (@MrinalPande1) September 24, 2017
You are right.My mistake.It was put up by BHU buzz,which has since admitted it's mistake. However the brutal lathi charge injured many girls https://t.co/X3lqaXSmav
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) September 24, 2017
4) Kolkata Police admonish Twitter user who tried to spread communal hatred
A Twitter user shared a video of a man being beaten up saying “This brahmin’s Puja bell sounds during this navaratri disturbed those Muslims in a Muslim majority area in West Bengal!”
Kolkata Police were notified of the video and immediately verified the video as false. On their Facebook page, Kolkata Police said, “One video is posted on social media by people with vested interest with incorrect narrative. This is a wrong and mischievous. This priest was manhandled by the family members of the victim girl where he allegedly molested her during a household puja … Legal action has been initiated against all the mischievous people spreading communal hatred during festivities … People are advised not to get misled by such posts. Kolkata Police is striving hard to verify all such posts and tell citizens the real truth. In case you come across any such post please forward it to us and don’t share it with your friends. Looking forward to your active cooperation. Thanks in advance. Happy Puja to all of you…..”
This is a wrong and mischievous post. This priest was manhandled by the family members of the victim girl where he allegedly molested her. 1
— Kolkata Police (@KolkataPolice) September 23, 2017
One video is posted on social media by people with vested interest with incorrect narrative. This is a wrong and…
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.
- How To Spot Fake News?
- “Fake News” Shared On Social Media Affects The Whole World; This Crisis Needs To Be Addressed Urgently
- The Fake Story Behind A Real Photo: The Real-Life Consequences Of Fake News
- The Instances When Indian Politicians Fell For Fake News
- From Now On, Facebook Pages That Share Fake News Will Be Blocked From Advertising