BOOMRewind: Fact Checking The Indian Media In 2022
BOOM did 76 unique fact-checks on misreporting or false reporting by news channels, websites and wire agencies between January 1 to December 31, 2022.
The year 2022 was a busy one for most media outlets around the world. Natural disasters struck multiple countries around the world, big tech companies laid off large number of workers, and Russia invaded Ukraine, leading to an all-out war.
It was not all bad either with a post-pandemic normalcy setting in - the world got to witness major sporting events like the FIFA World Cup, and the T20 Cricket world cup. Closer home, in India, we had elections held in many states including Gujarat, Goa and Uttarakhand, but the common trend of communally sensitive news and riots remained the same.
While some news outlets remained busy with ground reporting and breaking news, we also saw the bar on misreporting being raised by other mainstream outlets.
BOOM did 76 unique fact-checks on misreporting or false reporting by news channels, websites and wire agencies between January 1 to December 31, 2022. This number more than doubled since 2021, when we fact-checked the media 27 times.
In 2020, the year the pandemic and the 'infodemic' struck, the number of fact-checks on the mainstream media stood at 40.
We have compiled a list of top 30 fact checks from this year, that show how media outlets spread or fell for misinformation and fake news.
From running video game clips as real war footage, to adding communal spin to stories to target Muslims, lack of fact-checking by major news outlets touched a wide variety of topics.
Which Media House Misreported The Most?
An analysis of our 76 fact checks showed a few habitual offenders in the list. The most fact-checked media outlet this year was Zee News and its subsidiary channels - nearly 26 per cent of our overall fact-checks on the mainstream media (that is 20 fact-checks) were done on false reports by Zee News-affiliated channels alone, with its flagship channel Zee News accounting for 12 of them.
Times Now came second, appearing in 15 of our fact-checks (20 per cent of all the instances of misreporting), followed by News18, being mentioned in 14 of our fact-checks (18 per cent). NDTV and Times of India also appeared in 10 of our fact-checks.
Other big guns to have repeated mentions are India Today, Hindustan and ABP News.
The Wire Retracts Meta-XCheck Stories
One of the most long drawn out and publicised cases of misreporting of the year was The Wire's coverage of Meta-XCheck privileges to Indian politicians. In October, the news website published a damning report on Bharatiya Janata Party's IT Cell head Amit Malviya being given the privilege of taking down posts on the platform with review, through the elite XCheck programme. The entire allegation was based on screenshots of alleged internal documents from Instagram provided by a source to one of The Wire staffers.
Following a swift denial from Meta, The Wire released a screenshot of an alleged email sent by Meta's PR Head Andy Stone questioning Meta workers 'how the internal document was leaked'. Meta hit back again with a denial, and called the screenshot fabricated. Social media users also chimed in and pointed out red flags with the email screenshot.
The Wire published two more stories, doubling down and defending their previous story, until bits and pieces of the entire story started falling apart. After nearly 10 days of to and fro between The Wire and Meta, the former decided to retract all the stories after acknowledging that the editorial team was deceived by one of the staffers, leading the website to publish fabricated documents. Read Here.
False Communal Spin To Real Incidents
Media outlets: Times Now, TV9 Kannada, India Today, Milli Gazette, Aaj Tak, Sudarshan News, Zee Hindustan, Navbharat Times, Live Hindustan, ABP News, OpIndia
While social media posts targetting minorities especially Muslims in India has been rampant in the last few years, this year it was the news channels that got on with spreading false narratives. From claiming Muslims broke idols of Hindu deities in Karnataka, giving a communal spin to a murder of a minor in Delhi to claiming a Muslims are adultering sweets to reduce Hindu population, the news channels did it all in spreading communal news. The channels also took up the baton to spread awareness about what they termed love jihad - a term used for an interfaith couple when the man is a Muslim and the woman is a Hindu.
1. Times Now, TV9, India Today Claim Falsely Accuse Muslims Of Breaking Hindu Idols
Four youngsters, including three minors, broke idols of Hindu deities in Hassan, Karnataka. The incident caused Hindu right wing groups to rile up and accuse Muslims. News channels joined the parade and aired news calling it an attack by Muslims on "Hinduism".
The police arrested four people -- all Hindus -- and further clarified that "no Muslims" were involved in the incident. Read here
2. OpIndia, Kannada channels give communal spin to road rage murder in Bengaluru, Karnataka
A road rage incident from Bengaluru, where a youngster was stabbed to death by his friend was communalised with Kannada news channels and right leaning news site OpIndia claming a Hindu was killed by a Muslim man. BOOM spoke to the police and found the victim was a Christian and not Hindu and while the accused were Muslims, it was a case of road rage and not hate crime. Read here
3. Aaj Tak Gives Communal Hue To Hyderabad Drainage Blast
A blast in a drain in Hyderabad, was misleadingly reported by Aaj Tak in its Hindi and Bangla websites as a blast in a mosque. The screenshot of the news stories by Aaj Tak quickly went viral on Facebook with people giving it a further communal spin targetting Muslims. Read here
4. Sudarshan Airs Cropped Video From School Play To Claim 'Bharat Mata' Made To Offer Namaz
Right-wing channel Sudarshan aired a cropped version of a play by students at a Lucknow school, with a communal spin that the female student playing 'Bharat Mata' (Mother India), was forced to remove her crown and wear a hijab. BOOM found a longer version, which shows the the girl dressed up as Bharat Mata take part in the prayer rituals of four different religious communities along with students wearing their respective religious attire, in a skit about communal harmony and diversity. Read here
5. Zee Hindustan Falsely Claims Hindu Woman Attacked In Pakistan
A graphic video from Pakistan of a woman attacked by a group of people, over a land dispute was given a false communal spin by Zee Hindustand, who claimed it showed anti-Hindu violence in the neighbouring country. BOOM spoke to the woman, Munawar Kanwal, who said she was a Muslim and her attackers were Muslim too and there was no anti Hindu violence, but a fight over claim to a land. Read here
6. Aaj Tak Gave Communal Spin To A Hookah Bar Raid, Claims Place Was Promoting 'Love Jihad'
A raid on a hookah bar, that led to the arrests of six people including the owner of the place, was given a false communal spin by Aaj Tak. The channel claimed the place was "luring Hindu girls to be with Muslim men" and sharing their personal videos and blackmailing them. The same false claim, with a video from the hookah bar of a women dancing with men, was shared by reporters of several channels including those with ANI, Zee Hindustan, Sudarshan and News Nation. BOOM spoke to the local police who denied any "love jihad" angle and said six people - three Muslims and three Hindus. Read here
7. Navbharat Times, Hindustan Single Out UP Mosques For Illegal Power Connection
Navbharat Times and Hindustan, the Hindi newspaper of Hindustan Times published a report claiming about 400 mosques and madrasas in Uttar Pradesh's Rampur district received notices for having illegal electricity connections. BOOM Hindi found that the reports of Navbharat Times and Hindustan were misleading with the Rampur electricity department asking not just mosques and madrasas but all religious places, including temples, to get valid electricity connections at the earliest. Read here
8. Sudarshan News Makes False Communal Claim About Adulterated Sweets
A video of a raid on an unauthorised sweet making factory in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh was giving a false communal spin by right wing channel Sudarshan which claimed the factory was adding poison to sweets to "reduce the population of Hindus". BOOM Hindi spoke to the local police who said there was no communal angle to the incident and the factory was raided for being illegal. Read here
9. Sudarshan News Gives Communal Spin To Murder Of Youngster In Delhi
A murder of a young man in Delhi after objecting to men eve-teasing his sister, was given a false communal spin by right wing channel Sudarshan News. The channel claimed the accused were Muslims. BOOM spoke to the local police and found none of the accused are Muslims. Read here
The Tale Of Pakistan Zindabad Slogans
Media Outlets : Times Now, ABP News, ANI, Zee News, OpIndia, Zee Rajasthan, Amar Ujala, First India News, Dainik Bhaskar
In the recent year, the country has seen several false claims that groups, majorly those associated with a Muslim leader or organisation raised Pakistan Zindabad slogans in public rallies. These claims started by right wing leaders has made its way into media houses, with channels giving support to it by airing the same without proper verification or any official confirmation.
10. Times Now, ABP News, ANI, Zee News Falsely Claim PFI Supporters Raised Pakistan Zindabad Slogans In Pune
A protest held by supporters of Popular Front of India (PFI) in Pune stirred a controversy with many BJP and right wing leaders claiming the protesters raised 'Pakistan Zindabad' slogans. The same was amplified by mainstream media outlets who made the same false claim. BOOM analysed multiple videos from the protest and found the claim to be false and that 'Popular Front Zindabad' slogans were raised. Read here
11. Zee Rajasthan, Amar Ujala Falsely Claim Asaduddin Owaisi Supporters Chanted 'Pakistan Zindabad' In Jaipur Rally
News outlets misreported that supporters of AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi chanted Pakistan Zindabad slogans. BOOM founded that the claim was false and the supporters were chanting Owaisi saab zindabad and the same was confirmed by Jaipur police. Read here
12. Dainik Bhaskar Falsely Claims Pakistan Zindabad Slogans Raised After Panchayat Poll Results In MP
BOOM found that slogans that were raised were "Wajid Bhai Zindabad", in support of Shaikh Shahid Wajid, husband of the winning sarpanch candidate - Rahisha Bagam - after Gram Panchyat polls. Read here
What happens when someone is accused of the crime of raising the 'Pakistan Zindabad' slogan in India? Read our story to find out.
Russia Wages War On Ukraine; Indian Outlets Peddle Fake News Amid Chaos
Media outlets: Zee News, Mathrubhumi, DNA, Times Now, One India, TV9 Bharatvarsh, Times of India, Mojo Story, Vice News, Dainik Bhaskar, Republic, Quint Neon, India Today, NDTV, Global Times
Early this year, in February, Russia declared war on Ukraine and launched air strike and military invasions on several parts of the country, including Kyiv. As news broke out of the attacks, termed by Russian President Vladimir Putin as a special military operation, Indian news outlets, in a game of fastest finger first started putting out visuals claiming to show real time scenes from the attack on Ukraine. Except these videos were unrelated and at times outright fake. Some channels went a step further and aired videos from video games as exclusive videos of air strikes launched by Russia on Ukraine.
13. Republic, NDTV Air Face Off Between Palestinian Girl And Israeli soldier As Ukraine
A video of a young Palestinian girl confronting and threatening to punch an Israeli soldier in 2012, was aired by the channels as a brave Ukrainian standing up to a Russian soldier. Read here
14. Mathrubhumi Shares ARMA-3 Video Game Clip As Russia-Ukraine Conflict
A clip from a video game - ARMA 3 - of an airplane conducting air strikes, while taking fire from an anti-aircraft weapon, was aired as realtime war scenes by Malayalam news channel Mathrubhumi. Read here
15. ZEE News, DNA Air Video From 2016 As Russian Paratroopers In Ukraine
A video dating back to at least 2016 showing military paratroopers landing was misreported by Zee News and DNA falsely linking it to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Read here
16. Times Now, Zee News, DNA, One India Air Doctored Video As Russian Paratroopers in Ukraine
An old video of a display by Russian airforce at the country's 2020 Victory Day celebration was doctored to add the sound of sirens and shared as Russian fighter jets entering Ukraine. The same doctored video was picked up and shared as real by news outlets. Read here
17. Times Of India, Mojo Story and Vice News Share Unrelated video Falsely linked to the Russian attack in Mariopol, Ukraine
An unrelated video of flashes of light in the night sky followed by loud noises was used by media outlets to claim that it shows the Russian invasion of Ukraine. BOOM found that the viral video is unrelated and dates back at least to January 2022, prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Read here
18. TV9 Bangla Airs Scene from 2017 Film As Ukarinian Soldiers Bidding Goodbye To Family
A scene from a 2017 Ukrainian movie of two soldiers bidding goodbye to two women was aired by TV9 Bangla with the false claim that they are Ukrainian soldiers saying goodbye to their wives before leaving to fight Russia. BOOM found that the clipping is from a movie called "The War Of Chimeras". Read here
19. Dainik Bhaskar Uses Photo Of Free Food Drive In Canada As Ukraine
A photo of a food truck with 'Guru Nanak's Langar, Good Bye Hunger' written over was published by Hindi news outlets Dainik Bhaskar claiming it shows the Sikh community distributing free food in Ukraine amid the war. BOOM found the photo was old and from Toronto, Canada. Read here
20. Zee News, Republic, TOI, Quint Use Video Of Pro-Russian Separatist Evacuating Family To Russia As Ukrainian Soldier Bidding Farewell
A video showing an emotional moment of a pro-Russian separatist bidding farewell to a young girl was published by several news outlets as a Ukrainian wishing his daughter goodbye before going off to fight for his country against the Russian invasion. BOOM found this claim to be misleading; our investigation revealed that the video was shot in Gorlovka, which is in the pro-Russian separatist region of People's Republic of Donetsk. The man in the video is actually seen evacuating his family to Russia. Read here
21. Republic TV Claim Air India Only Airline To Fly Into War Hit Ukraine To Rescue Indians
A screenshot from PlaneFinder, a real time flight tracking service, showing Air India AI121's flight trajectory - the only airplane going in one direction with several others flying away in the opposite direction went viral. The screenshot was a glitch in the PlaneFinder app as clarified by the person who tweeted the same. But news channel Republic TV and Amish Devgan, managing editor, News 18 India published stories with the false claim without verifying the same from the air traffic control or the flight tracking app. Read here
22. Global Times falsely claims India lit up Qutub Minar in support of Russia
China's state backed news outlet - Global Times, tweeted a set of photos and falsely claimed that India illuminated the Qutub Minar in Delhi with the colours of the Russian flag in support of Russia amidst the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. BOOM found that the Qutub Minar was illuminated on the occasion of Jan Aushadhi Diwas 2022 and not in support of Russia. Read here
Sports - FIFA, T20 World Cups, Commonwealth Games
The post pandemic world saw several big sporting events organised in various parts of the world. Some of the biggest this year were the FIFA World Cup 2022 , ICC T20 World Cups, the Commonwealth Games and Australian Open. While audiences remained glued for a minute by minute update about their favourite games and sportspersons, news channels in India and globally in a bid to be the first, fell for fake news or simple failed to verify viral news.
Media outlets: Mirror UK, Times Now, News24, WION, Hindustan Times, Business Today, NDTV, CNN News18, Free Press Journal, Sportskeeda, Dainik Bhaskar, Dainik Jagran, Asianet News, Zee News, Sudarshan News, India Today, ABP News, Republic, Punjab Kesari
23. News Outlets Falsely Claim Saudi Football Team Gifted A Rolls-Royce Post Win Against Argentina
Several Indian and international media outlets misleadingly reported that the Saudi Arabia football players were all set to be gifted a Rolls-Royce car each after their win against Argentina at the FIFA World Cup 2022. However in a press briefing, Saudi Arabia player Saleh Al-Shehri and coach Herve Renard clarified that the reports were not true. Read here
Fake News Around Global Leaders - Rishi Sunak, Boris Johnson And Emmanuel Macron
The year of 2022 saw India and UK deepen its relations, with then Prime Minister Boris Johnson making a two day visit to India including to Gujarat. Months later, in October, Rishi Sunak scripted history by becoming Britain's first prime minister of Indian descent, ruling headlines of Indian news outlets, for several days. The youngest PM at 42, Sunak is not just linked to India by his parents but also by marriage. Husband to Akshata, Sunak is the son- son-in-law of Indian billionaire bussinessperson and founder of Infosys Narayan Murthy. While news of his election came added an extra cheer to Diwali celebrations in India, it also brought with it fake news and misleading claims - some of which was published by news outlets as real news.
Media outlets: NDTV, Times of India, PTI, Economic Times, The Tribune, India Today, News24, Times Now, CNN News18, Hindustan Times, Amar Ujala, Aaj Tak, ANI, Amar Ujala, TV9 Bharatvarsh, Zee News, The Print, ABP News, News18, Gujarat Samachar
24. India Today Streams Rishi Sunak's Old Video As Live
On October 21, news channel India Today live streamed an old video of British MP and Conservative Party leader Rishi Sunak, where he can be seen announcing his plans for the revival of Britain's economy. BOOM found that the video streamed as live by India Today following Liz Truss' resignation, is actually from July, 2022. Read here
25. NDTV, TOI, PTI, ET, Tribune Claim Boris Johnson Is First British PM To Visit Gujarat
Indian news outlets incorrectly claimed last week that Boris Johnson is the first British prime minister to visit Gujarat. Publicly available evidence shows that in 1978, then British Prime Minister James Callaghan visited Ahmedabad with then Prime Minister Morarji Desai. Read here
26. ANI, HT, Amar Ujala, TV9, The Print, Zee News Share Old Video Of French President Emmanuel Macron Being Slapped As Recent
News wire agency ANI tweeted a video of French President Emmanuel Macron being slapped as recent, following which several other media outlets too picked up the same and published stories. Read here
27. Zee News falsely claims Rahul Gandhi called 'Udaipur' accused 'children'
Zee News falsely claimed that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi referred to the two accused in the shocking Udaipur killing, as "children". The Hindi news channel tried to misleadingly pass off Gandhi's remarks on the vandalism of his constituency office in Wayanad, Kerala as his comment on the Udaipur killing where a tailor was hacked to death on camera last month. Read here
28. Gujarat Samachar Falsely Claims Stone Pelted At PM Modi In Gujarat
Following a massive rally by PM Modi in Gujarat, several Gujarati media outlets including Gujarat Samachar published articles claiming a stone was pelted at the prime minister during the rally. The article did not cite any source but said one person had been detained. BOOM spoke to the Gujarat police who denied such an incident and said that a stone was not hurled and all posts claiming the same are fake. The police added they were investigating whether a mobile phone was accidentally thrown at the PM's convoy with the flowers being showered at him. Read here
29. NDTV, News24 Publish Old Photos Of An Injured Imran Khan After Assassination Attempt
Two old photos of former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan were published by media outlets falsely claiming that the images show his condition after a gunman tried to assassinate him at a rally Pakistan's Punjab province in November 2022. Read here
Indian Govt Issues Safety Advisory For Indians In Canada And What Followed
In September the Indian government issued a safety advisory for its citizens in Canada. The advisory came after pro-Khalistan graffiti was sprayed on the entrace of the BAPS Swaminarayan Temple in Toronto and cited, "incidents of hate crimes, sectarian violence and anti-India activities in Canada".
30. Times Now and Zee News Air Photos Of Two Different Signboards And Brampton Logo Proof Of Vandalism And Hate Crime In Brampton, Canada
Within days of the advisory, a signboard from a park named, Shri Bhagavad Gita in Brampton, Ontario went viral with claims that it had been vandalised. While the false claim was first made by the official Twitter account of the High Commission of India in Ottawa - it received support by media outlets in India. BOOM spoke to locals who stay around the park in Brampton who confirmed that the photos show two different signboards and that there had been no vandalism. Read here.
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