"During the Rajasthan Assembly elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to face opposition from the people, and he was not even allowed to deliver his speech. Same was the situation with Home Minister Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani."
The above claims are entirely false, but were presented as facts on a Facebook page named Nation TV.
With more than 15000 followers and nearly 2000 likes, this page has been rampantly sharing videos with false or misleading claims, in opposition to the Bharatiya Janata Party, and in support of Congress.
Registered as a 'News and Media website' on Facebook, the page claims to be provide unbiased views with the motto 'Desh ki Awaaz', while posting content that are one-sided and misleading. BOOM found old and unrelated clips being used frequently to make such claims.
November saw assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, and Mizoram, while Telangana goes to polls on November 30. During this time, social media has been flooded with fake and misleading content being shared by political parties and their supporters, in an attempt to sway the narrative in their favour. 'Nation TV' is one such page, where false and misleading claims favouring Congress were found being shared unabated.
The video falsely claimed to show protest against Modi in Rajasthan had been viewed more than 3.28 lakh times. Another video used to make a similar false claim against Irani had more than one lakh views, and has been liked by nearly four thousand.
A video falsely claiming to show Rahul Gandhi visiting Union Minister and former Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia's house has more than 3.14 lakh views, and 14000 likes.
BOOM investigated the content shared by the page, and found it to be a sustained effort at spreading disinformation around the ongoing assembly elections. The false claims around a particular state were found to intensify, when voting was around the corner.
For example, before MP went to polls on November 17, most of the videos on this page were shared with false claims related to the MP elections. Similar pattern was observed in Rajasthan, and now Telangana.
The same video with false claims was frequently shared every few days. It had videos not just on political topic, but also related to cricket, entertainment, Supreme court etc. The thumbnails of these videos were always filled with provocative texts and images.
Fake Videos Of BJP Leaders
The page's pro-Congress stance was revealed through its soft stance towards Congress leaders, and its frequent targeting BJP leaders like Modi, Shah and Irani.
Old visuals showing billboards saying 'Go Back Modi' and 'Modi No Entry' were revived and falsely liked to the Rajasthan polls to target Modi. These frames were added to a larger video to show signs of protest against Modi in the state.
Similarly, various footage of Shah were stitched together into a video, which was shared with the claim that it shows people protesting against the Home Minister. However, the footage in the video did not show any scene of protest. We also searched online through keywords, but were unable to find reports of any such protest as claimed in the video.
The video also claims that the protest against Shah's arrival was held during the election meeting at Ajmer. We viewed the entirety of Shah's election rally in Ajmer on BJP's YouTube channel, and did not find any instance of protest against him, nor did we find any news reports of such a protest.
Smriti Irani was targeted by a similar claim, with a video being shared to purport that she was attacked by the people in Rajasthan during her visit to the state for campaigning.
"Smriti Irani was attacked by the people. People got angry and pushed Irani away. There was a fierce protest against Irani?" the caption with the video read. The video claims that Irani was chased by the common people during her visit to an election rally at Shahpura, but yet again, the video showed no such protest.
Furthermore, we were able to ascertain that the footage used for the video were old and unrelated to the recently held assembly polls in Rajasthan. We were also unable to find any news reports of protests against her at Shahpura.
We did find an article by Dainik Bhaskar from November 20, which mentioned that Irani's roadshow in Shahpura came face-to-face with the roadshow of Congress Party's Manish Yadav, leading to loud slogans being raised on both sides in favour of their candidates. The report did not mention any protest from the people, and the visuals from that incident did not match those in the video.
The page was found to make consistent efforts to post content in favour of the Congress Party and its leaders through the use of disinformation.
One such video claimed to show Congress leader Rahul Gandhi visiting former Congress leader and Union Minister Scindia at his house days before the elections. We were, however, unable to find any news reports on such a meeting between the two high profile leaders.
False Claims Around Cricket, Bollywood
The page also shared disinformation linked to the recently concluded ICC Cricket World Cup, while targeting the BJP.
For example, a video was shared with a thumbnail purportedly containing a statement by Indian team captain Rohit Sharma targeting Modi, whereas there is no mention of any such statement in the video.
Additionally, the page contains several videos with misleading claims related to Bollywood stars and the Supreme Court.
About 'Nation TV' Page
There is no information available about the administrator of this page, created on February 12, 2021.
Every day this page shares 10-12 videos. On visiting the website link named 'Vihaan TV' present on the page, its office address is written as Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. All the fake claims in the videos are made by decontextualising old and unrelated clips.
You Tube Channel
During our investigation, we found a YouTube channel named 'Nation Night' where the exact videos appearing on Nation TV were also uploaded. This led us to conclude that the YouTube channel and the Facebook page are run by the same people.
The channel, launched in October 2022, had more than 1400 videos, with 7-8 videos being uploaded everyday, and more than 42,000 subscribers. More than 1.12 crore people have watched the videos on the channel so far.