This week, we focus on all the fake news that went viral in the wake of the gruesome rape and murder of a 26-year old veterinary doctor in Hyderabad.
We also discuss a weird claim around a viral video of an unfortunate toddler born with the rare Harlequin disorder.
In our international section, we look at the massive misinformation campaign around the Hong Kong protests that have just hit the 6-month mark.
Here is an excerpt from the episode:
Archis: Hello Everyone! BOOM Conversations is back with a brand new show, where we'll curate and bring to you weekly trends that we notice in the Fake News Universe. So, hold on tight as my colleague and I take you through a world of fantasy that has gripped our imagination.
I am Archis!
Krutika: And I am Krutika, Welcome To Down To Facts! Let's get started!
Rape cases all across the world are horrifying to know about. Knowing what the victim must have gone through is something that sends chills down our spines. Okay, I won't go on talking about how we feel. But what if I tell you that whenever such an incident happens, there is always a lot of fake news that goes around on social media.
Archis: Yes, fake news of the last level.. Bringing in the communal angle and further spreading narrative which obviously has very less facts or no facts at all to back it up with.
Krutika: Just recently, India witnessed a horrific gang rape in Hyderabad which sent shock waves across the country. A 26-year-old veterinary doctor was gang raped, murdered and then set on fire by four men on the outskirts of Hyderabad on November 28th. But while some people took to social media to outrage about the incident, some others were busy creating Fake News Around it. We at BOOM noticed quite a few fake news posts around this viral on social media.
Archis: Amidst all the fake news that is now viral on social media, a defunct helpline number is now being shared online with a lot of people urging women to reach out to in times of distress.
Krutika, do you remember the Nirbhaya helpline that was created earlier?
Krutika: Yeah! What about that?
Archis: So, the helpline number being shared is 9833312222. And I should tell you, this was definitely launched,, but way back in 2015 by the Mumbai Railway Police and in fact, the number wasn't even a Pan-India helpline number. It was exclusively for women commuters using the suburban railway services in the city. However, it was deactivated and the services were discontinued in 2018.
Krutika: Currently, the number you need to call if you're in trouble is 100… ONE ZERO ZERO!
Archis: That's right! So don't share this number any further.
Krutika: That's not the only thing that's going viral. This unfortunate event on social media has been spun as a communal attack on Hindus by Muslims. As we know now, there were four assailants who were caught for this crime - and only one of the names were shared widely.
Archis: That's right, Mohammed Pasha was the name that became viral on social media. And as this communal narrative was shared, many users deliberately refrained from stating the name of the other 3, just to support their communal narrative.
Krutika: But that's not all. A self-proclaimed sadhu from UP called Narsingh Vani took this a lot further. He claimed that 3 of the apprehended rapists in this case were minors. And as you know, the exact names of minors are not released by the police as per the law. So Vani claimed that since these three - who are supposedly minors - were actually Muslims too. But Telangana police gave them Hindu names just to cover-up the communal nature of the crime, because, as I said, names of minors cannot be released.
Archis: But alas! That claim was blatantly false. Cyberabad police confirmed to us that these 3 in question were not minors at all - they were 20 years old. We also accessed the press statement by the cops which confirmed the same. By the way, this claim was also made by Sudarshan News' editor-in-chief Suresh Chavhanke, who stated that the names of the non-muslim assailants were changed to cover up the communal narrative.
Krutika: But the fact remains that communal narrative is completely fabricated and is highly disrespectful for the rape victim and her family.
Archis: So if you came across such tweets do not take part in this depravity, and always verify before you share such sensitive content.
Do you always want to share the authentic news with your friends?