We received this message on our Whatsapp verification helpline number.
The message reads, “Schools and colleges have been closed due to Corona virus and because of this, the education of the students has been affected, hence providing free Android smartphones to all the students. So that students can complete their education with the help of internet and online classes. You can fill the form to get your free smartphone from this link: https://bit.ly/Register-Free-Smartphone-Link.”
The message further encourages people to share it as much as possible to benefit from this facility.
On clicking the link in the message, we were directed to a webpage which includes a registration form for details such as name, gender, class, address, sim operator and more.
Towards the end of the webpage, it says after the successful submission of the form, and “if you are eligible, you will receive a Internet pack to the provided Phone Number Within 1 Hour.” However, it doesn’t mention what the eligibility criteria is.
Fact Check/ Verification
We looked through relevant central Government of India websites for more information on the claim, but found nothing. Nor could we find any official notice from the central Indian government body suggesting distribution of free Android smartphones for students amid the pandemic.
However, last month an NGO suggested that the government distribute textbooks, smartphones or tablets, and state governments provide free data packages to ensure children aren’t left behind in terms of education during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier in August, the Punjab government distributed smartphones to 15 students of class XII in select districts for free.
Please note that Government-related links usually end in gov.in or nic.in. And the link in the message did not end with either.
Press Information Bureau Fact Check debunked this claim stating that the central government has not made any such announcement.
The Ministry of Home Affairs in its National Cyber Reporting Portal lists ways through which people can become aware and keep safe from frauds. Not clicking on suspicious links is one such tip.
It reads, “Never click suspicious links or attachments: Never click on links or files received in e-mail, text message or social media from unknown person. This may be an attempt to infect computer with a malware.”
The implication that the Narendra Modi led government at the Centre is giving out free Android smartphones to all students for online education amid the lockdown is false.
Press Information Bureau Fact Check: https://twitter.com/PIBFactCheck/status/1297779971121745921?s=20
Ministry of Home Affairs, NCRP: https://cybercrime.gov.in/Webform/Crime_OnlineSafetyTips.aspx
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