A rumor spreads like a Flue! Very little escaped the reach of fake or fabricated news in 2016. Rumors spread from social media into the mainstream media. Institutions such as United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisations (UNESCO) and Reserve bank of India (RBI) had to step in and tell us what was true. Here are some of the fake news 2016.
UNESCO declares PM Modi as the ‘Best Prime Minister’
UNESCO has been one of the primary alleged sources of fake news in India. In June 2016, fake news broke out on Whatsapp groups and other social media that the UN cultural agency had awarded Prime Minister Narendra Modi the title of best prime minister in the world.
UNESCO declares Jana Gana Mana ‘Best National Anthem’
Another favorite Indian rumour involving UNESCO is the claim that India’s national anthem- Jana Gana Mana- has been declared the ‘Best national Anthem in the World’. However, UNESCO has made no such announcement concerning the anthem of India or any country.
UNESCO declares New Rs.2000 note ‘Best Currency In The World’
Another fake UNESCO certificate for India touched upon the note-ban crisis. As messages claimed the organisation had certified the new Rs.2000 note as the ‘Best Currency In The World’. The message, shared widely on Whatsapp, claimed “Dr.Saurabh Mukherjee, head of cultural awareness department of UNESCO announced this to media”.
New Notes have a GPS Chip to detect Black Money.
In less than an hour of PM Modi announcing the note ban, rumours started circulating on Whatsapp of a nano geo-positioning system (GPS) tracking device embedded in the new Rs.2000 notes. The nano GPS chip does not need any power source, the forward said. The RBI clarified that the note contained no such feature.
New Notes have Radioactive Ink
Note-ban provided more fodder for fake news. Rumours began circulating that the RBI was using radioactive ink to print new Rs.2000 and Rs.500 notes. The fake news claimed the Income Tax Department was using the isotope to trace large quantities of cash held at a particular spot.
WhatsApp profile pictures can be used by ISIS for terror activities
A WhatsApp forward, supposedly sent by the Delhi Police commissioner, requested ‘moms’ and ‘sisters’ to delete their WhatsApp profile picture for security purposes. These pictures were supposedly vulnerable to misuse by the terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) who could easily steal their virtual identity, accorded to the forwarded message.
RBI Declares Rs.10 Coin Invalid
Months before note-ban was announced, the message that RBI had declared the Rs.10 coin invalid spread through WhatsApp, particularly to areas in Agra, Delhi and Meerut. This confusion led shopkeepers, kiosk-owners, auto-rickshaw drivers and vendors to refuse the coins. The RBI stepped in and clarified that the coins were indeed legal tender.
Jayalalithaa’s ‘Secret Daughter’
Soon after the death of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, fake photo of a secret daughter went viral on social media. The message alleged that the woman was Jayalalithaa’s daugher, who lived somewhere in USA. As it turns out, the woman in the photograph was not connected to Jayalalithaa and lived in Australia.
Salt shortage in India
WhatsApp messages of a salt shortage in November 2016 triggered panic buying at markets past midnight and caused a four-fold price-rise in some parts of the country. Western UP, Delhi, Maharashtra and Hyderabad were particularly affected by this bit of fake news. The government issued a clarification denying any shortage of the commodity.
‘Nehru Govt has stood like a Banyan Tree’ : Mark Tully
Fake news claiming former BBC India bureau chief, Mark Tully, called for support to PM Narendra Modi’s government, while describing India’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru’s government as standing ‘like a banyan tree’ went viral on social media earlier this month. Tully rebutted the claims of the post but the post still appears to be in circulation.
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