Recent media reports say that the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (UP STF) has issued an order for their staff and family to delete 52 Chinese applications from their mobile phones citing security reasons. Many are claiming that such order hasn't been issued.
Below is the viral photo that is circulating:
PIB Fact Check
PIB Fact check on June 19, tweeted that no such advisory has been issued by the UPSTF.
"A claim viral on social media says that STF has advised against the use of certain apps. This news is false. STF has not issued any such advisory. (सोशल मीडिया पर वायरल एक संदेश में एसटीएफ द्वारा कुछ ऐप का प्रयोग नहीं किए जाने का दावा किया जा रहा है. #PIBFactCheck: खबर झूठ है, एसटीएफ द्वारा ऐसी कोई एडवाइजरी जारी नहीं की गई है.)" they wrote.
A screenshot of a broadcast by Bharat Samachar (BSTV) was also added along with that tweet.
Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (UPSTF) has issued an order for their staff and family to delete 52 Chinese applications from their mobile phones citing security reasons.
The media reports true.
UP STF did issue an advisory asking its staff to delete 52 Chinese apps from their phones.
According to an Indian Express report dated 20 June, Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (STF) Inspector General (IG) Amitabh Yash on Jun 18 Friday issued an order, directing all personnel attached to the agency to delete 52 apps from their phones and also from phones of their family members, pointing out that "important data in the phones might be stolen through these apps."
UP Additional Director General of Police (Law & Order) Prashant Kumar stated that it was meant for the "STF only as directed by the IG on his (Yash) own initiative."
Below is a video where Kumar talks about the advisory.
Bharat Samachar TV (BSTV), a UP based media agency, whose broadcast was a part of PIB's tweet, also shared a video which shows the advisory on the notice board of the STF office.
Below is the video of the complete broadcast:
BSTV specified that the order was issued by UP police.
Therefore, the UP Special Task Force did ask its staffers to uninstall 52 mobile apps, pointing out that these applications could be used to extract information from their mobile phones. Thus the news is true and PIB Fact Check is false.
Instances Of Fact-Checking Typical To PIB Fact Check
Press Information Bureau (PIB), the Nodal agency for Government of India on November 15 established a fact-checking unit called PIB Fact Check to identify and debunk fake news/claims related to the government's ministries, departments and schemes.
There have been multiple times when PIB has stated a true information as false especially the news which show govt in bad light. They also don't provide the methodology through which they fact-check information.
1) On relation with tension at the Indo-China border, the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on June 2 had said that a "sizeable number" of Chinese troops have moved into areas in eastern Ladakh. China claimed these areas as their territory. According to the minister, India has taken all necessary steps to deal with the situation.
"Whatever is happening at present… It is true that people of China are on the border. They claim that it is their territory. Our claim is that it is our area. There has been a disagreement over it. A sizeable number of Chinese people have also come (Aur acchi khasi sankhya mein Cheen ke log bhi aa gaye hain). India has done what it needs to do," Singh told CNN-News 18 in a video recorded interview.
The minister's comments were being considered as a first official confirmation of the presence of significant numbers of Chinese troops in India's side of Line of Actual Control (LAC). PIB Fact Check, however, tweeted that his words were being misinterpreted. One must notice the absence of any further evidence to refute the claims other than a statement calling it a misinterpretation.
2) Last month, the fact-check wing of PIB had done a fact check on a report by The Wire, published on May 21. The Wire article was titled 'Behind Ahmedabad's Ventilator Controversy, a Backstory of Connections to Top BJP Leaders' .
According to their tweet, The Wire's report stating that ventilators at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital were substandard and were purchased was "Fake News".
The PIB also tagged the author of the report, Rohini Singh, in the tweet. The tweet said that the claim made in the article 'that the Dhaman-I ventilators at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital are substandard and were purchased' was not true.
Singh had replied to the tweet and called it a 'fake fact check'.
"Second, the Gujarat Health Secretary claims the government of India through HLL Lifecare has given an order to purchase these faulty ventilators," Singh wrote.
She also said that The Wire was not claiming the faulty ventilators were purchased by the Gujarat government. "It reports how despite complaints on faulty ventilators by doctors at the hospital, the Gujarat government kept defending them. Like PIB is defending them now," she added in a follow-up tweet.
The important part to note here is that, without providing any other evidence, simply based on the word of the state government of Gujarat, PIB put a fake seal on the report by The Wire. The Gujarat State government was the very body that The Wire had alleged was part of the problem.
3) In another example, The Caravan had reported on April 15, that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had formed a national task force of 21 scientists tasked to advise the Modi administration in handling the COVID-19 crisis. According to the report, these scientists weren't consulted even once before the extension of nationwide lockdown in its first stage till May 3.
The ICMR had rejected the claim on the microblogging site. PIB Fact Check had put a fake seal on Caravan's report citing the ICMR tweet.
Reporter Vidya Krishnan in response had asked the apex body to furnish information on the minutes of these meetings. Her tweet, however, was not responded too by either body. According to a report by Newslaundry, the government bodies did not respond to Krishnan's requests. She did not even get a reply to her emails asking for the meeting's minutes.
It must, however, be stated that the PIB Fact Check initiative has indeed debunked a series of WhatsApp Forwards which misled people into believing in false Government schemes through fraudulent websites.
Stamping a 'fact-checked' seal is not enough, backing the claims with substantial, unbiased evidence from reliable, neutral sources is the only way to counter misinformation at a time when hoodwinking the masses is gradually becoming the new normal.
If you have any news that you believe needs to be fact-checked, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp at 6364000343.
Also Read: The Wire Vs PIB: Report Of 'Substandard Ventilators At Ahmedabad Govt Hospital' Courts Controversy