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HomeFact CheckWeekly Misinformation Wrap: Misinformation On Amritpal Singh, PAN-Aadhaar Link & More

Weekly Misinformation Wrap: Misinformation On Amritpal Singh, PAN-Aadhaar Link & More

Authors

Pankaj Menon is a fact-checker based out of Delhi who enjoys ‘digital sleuthing’ and calling out misinformation. He has completed his MA in International Relations from Madras University and has worked with organisations like NDTV, Times Now and Deccan Chronicle online in the past.

From the manhunt for Amritpal Singh to the deadline for linking PAN-Aadhaar, social media was abuzz with news and developments. Here is a list of the top stories that were debunked by Newschecker and the key misinformation trends that  Newschecker found this week 

Newschecker debunked 70 instances of misinformation between March 17 and March 25, 2023. Of these, in 15% of the instances, the misinformation was amplified by mainstream media houses including, including Hindustan Times, Times Of India, Economic Times, CNBC TV 18, and Zee News among others. 

In at least 21% of the instances, the false information was also shared/amplified by verified handles. Approximately 10% of the total political and religious claims debunked last week were found to be communal in nature.

51% of the claims were shared in the form of images overlaid with false and misleading text, followed by 33% of instances, where the claims were packaged as video overlaid with text. 

PAN-Aadhaar Link: Rumours abound 

After several extensions, the union government has decided to stay put on the deadline for linking the PAN with one’s Aadhaar, and naturally, not everyone is happy. From concerns over data privacy to worries over the safety of bank accounts, sceptics online cite several arguments against the move. Adding fuel to the fear are posts  creating misinformation. 

As the deadline approached, rumours circulating on encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp warned people of a potential fine to the tune of  ₹ 10,000 if the procedure was not completed by March 31 . Newschecker debunked this claim in several languages, including Kannada and Marathi

This was soon followed by social media users sharing an alleged Gujarat High Court ruling wherein the court purportedly said that it was optional to link Aadhaar with the PAN. This was debunked by Newschecker to be old and shared in false context.

The next leg of misinformation included a screengrab of the Gazette of India, purportedly announcing the extension of the deadline from March 31, 2023, to April 1, 2024. Newschecker’s investigation proved that the notification pertained to the linking of the  Aadhaar and the Voter ID as opposed to the claim of Aadhaar and PAN. 

From 1994 Photo, To Faulty Terror List & A Clipped Speech: Misinfo Against Parties 

As news of a conman hoodwinking Kashmir authorities by posing as a member of the PMO took the internet by shock, many shared an image alleging that Patel was indeed an acquaintance of the Prime Minister from his days as an RSS member. This claim was found to be false, and the man allegedly identified as Patel was found to be none other than Union Minister G Kishan Reddy. However, the BJP was not the only party that was targeted. The CPI also became a victim of online misinformation after a list by the Institute for Economics & Peace placed the party as 12th on a list of global terror organisations instead of the CPI (Maoist). While CPI quickly fixed the gaffe, and issued a clarification, many shared the earlier list, claiming that the political party had been called out by international organisations as violent. The AAP was not spared either, with a clipped video of Kejriwal, where he can be heard promising to get “milk even from bulls”

Earthquake, Hailstorm & Explosion: Cashing In On Disasters

Coming close in the heels of the Turkey earthquake, the earthquake that shook Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of North India became the talking point on social media soon after the tremors. But amidst the melee of tweets that tried to present the intensity of the earthquake, social media users also shared unrelated images and videos, linking them to the tumbler. This image claiming to show the damage to road and buildings in Kashmir, for instance, or this video claiming to show a floor cave in as a result of the earthquake were both debunked to be unrelated.

The hailstorm that struck several parts of North India also saw misinformation, with an old video from Nepal being shared in the current context. 

A video of the Beirut port explosion that rocked the city in 2020 was also among the old content that was shared as recent.
The earthquake in Syria and Turkey continued to feature in misinformation spheres, with a video showing a mass execution of civilians in April 2013 shared as footage of Turkish authorities executing contractors in the aftermath of the earthquake.


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Authors

Pankaj Menon is a fact-checker based out of Delhi who enjoys ‘digital sleuthing’ and calling out misinformation. He has completed his MA in International Relations from Madras University and has worked with organisations like NDTV, Times Now and Deccan Chronicle online in the past.

Pankaj Menon
Pankaj Menon
Pankaj Menon is a fact-checker based out of Delhi who enjoys ‘digital sleuthing’ and calling out misinformation. He has completed his MA in International Relations from Madras University and has worked with organisations like NDTV, Times Now and Deccan Chronicle online in the past.

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