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HomeFact CheckYear in Misinformation: Top 10 Fact Checks Of 2022

Year in Misinformation: Top 10 Fact Checks Of 2022

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.

To say that 2022 was exciting in terms of news and events would be an understatement. From Ukraine-Russia war to Queen Elizabeth’s demise, from Rishi Sunak becoming the British PM to Imran Khan losing his position as Pakistan’s premier, from the uprising in Iran following Mahsa Amini’s death to the much controversial Qatar WC, the year was witness to some of the greatest moments in history. And as this memorable year draws to its end, Newschecker takes a look back to revisit the most viral stories that Newschecker debunked in 2022. 

Does Aphelion Phenomenon Cause Colder Temperatures?

The shape of an object’s orbit around the sun is not always perfectly circular. The point in the orbit where the object is farthest from the sun is called the aphelion. As Earth orbits the sun, it can sometimes be closer to or farther from the sun. But is this enough to affect our weather? That’s what this viral social media post claimed. The post warned users of the aphelion phenomenon, and claimed it would result in a drop in global temperature to below normal levels, from July until the end of August.  But Newschecer’s fact check has revealed that this was not true. Read the full fact check here.

Runaway 14-year-old Called Chitra Grew Up To Be Sudha Murty?

It is not surprising that Rishi Sunak’s appointment as Britain’s first Indian-origin prime minister has brought him and those close to him under public scrutiny and social media attention.

Along with old videos and images of Sunak ‘performing Hindu rituals’ and being in touch with his Hindu heritage going viral, another story also took social media users by storm- one about the alleged rise of Sunak’s mother-in-law Sudha Murty from a runaway orphan to becoming the Infosys chairperson. The viral post narrates the story of one Mrs. Usha Bhattacharya, who pays for the train ticket of a runaway girl named Chitra. Mrs Bhattacharya takes Chitra under her wings and arranges for her education with her NGO, the story claims, and goes on to make the most startling revelation- that the little girl grew up to be the Infosys chairperson Sudha Murty. But the fairytale past of Sudha Murty is just that- a cooked up story. Newschecker found that the story was in fact the plot of a short story penned by Murty herself, in her book ‘The day I stopped drinking milk’. Read the full fact check here.

No, US Is Not Demonetising Old Notes

Has the US taken a leaf out of Modi government’s books and decided to demonetise notes that were printed before 2021? So claimed a viral message on social media. The ‘news’ seems to have found its way to social media circles in Africa first, soon after Nigeria announced its plan to redesign the country’s highest paper denominations – the 200-, 500- and 1,000-naira notes. The move had triggered a rush among wealthy Nigerians to purchase dollars, indicating that the message was intended to deter consumers in the African nation from stocking up on dollars. The message eventually found its way to India, with many claiming that the US had decided to demonetise its older currency to prevent black money, a tactic these users claimed was borrowed from the demonetisation exercise in India. However, the news was found to be a hoax. Read more here.

The Viral iPhone Hacking Scare

Hacking scares are a regular modus operandi that many websites follow to push dubious malware protection apps to unsuspecting users. The viral iPhone hacking scam followed the same pattern. Several social media users flagged a pop-up notification that they received on their Apple iphone browser, warning them that their phone was hacked and that their activity was being tracked. The pop-up reads ‘Your Apple iPhone is hacked. All operations on your device are being tracked by the hacker. Immediate action is required.’ Newschecker found this pop-up to be false. Read the full article here.

Did The Simpsons Predict The Queen’s Death?

The iconic American animated sitcom, The Simpsons, has acquired a reputation of predicting major events, including Donald Trump becoming US president, the Walt Disney acquisition of 21st Century Fox, among others. Following Queen Elizabeth II’s death, several social media users claimed that The Simpsons has “done it again”, predicting her year of death in one of the episodes that aired in early 2000s. Newschecker has found the viral image to be altered. Read the full fact check here.

Can Hot pineapple water be used as a cure for cancer? No!

While the scientific community continues to research the cure for cancer, a viral social media post claims to have found a cure that “defeated cancer”- hot pineapple water. According to the viral message circulating in private messaging groups, adding a few slices of chopped pineapple to hot water and drinking this mixture can help boost the body’s ability to fight the disease. Newschecker has found the claim to be false. Read the full fact check here.

Viral Video Of Indonesia Airlines’ Plane Crash Landing Is Fake

A video allegedly showing a Garuda Indonesia airlines’ plane stumbling and crash-landing on a runway in Iran is doing the rounds on social media platforms. It is being claimed that the plane manages to land safely after “nearly crashing.” However, Newschecker has found the viral video to be fabricated and not related to any real incident. Read the full report here.

Viral Newspaper Clip of The German Times Report On Bhagwant Mann Being Deplaned Is Satire

While Newschecker could not independently corroborate whether Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann was de-planed in Frankfurt for being drunk, Newschecker found the viral “news report” by a paper called The German Times detailing the incident to be false. The last published edition of the German Times was from 2 years ago. Read the full article here.

Sketch Artist Noorjahan Has Not Entered Guinness Book of World Record Yet

Late in October, a video kept Newschecker’s WhatsApp tipline buzzing- one which claimed that a UP village-based artist, Noorjahan found a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for single-handedly sketching 15 portraits at a time. Social media was all praise for the feat by the teenager, but barring these posts and forwards, there were no credible reports of any such accolade for Noorjahan, making us suspicious. On investigating the claim further, Newschecker found that the artist is not a listed record holder on the official website of the Guinness book of world records. Read the full report here.

Indian Techie Rewarded ₹65 Crore By Google For Reporting Bugs? No, Article’s Misquote Figures

The Google and Alphabet Vulnerabilities Rewards Program (VRP) is a rewards program by the company, which honours the contributions by the research community, made to report vulnerabilities in the Google and Alphabet subsidiary web properties. Early in the year, the company released a blog with the details of the bugs reported by the researchers and the awards by the company, which totalled to a record breaking $8,700,000. Indian programmer Aman Pandey was given a special shoutout by the company for his role as their top researcher last year, reporting a total of 232 vulnerabilities in 2021, and in helping the vulnerabilities program become so successful. But news outlets, while reporting the development, misinterpreted that the total rewards of $8,700,000 awarded by Google in 2021 (amounting to Rs 65 crores), was awarded to Pandey alone ‘for keeping Android safe’. Read the full fact check here


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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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