In the previous week Ekta addressed misinformation around various topics such as COVID-19 vaccine, politics and elections. While misinformation often follows the newscycle, there is also sporadic and region specific misinformation. In this blogpost we bring you top fact-check reports and deep dives picked by EKTA editors from the previous week.
Ekta is a consortium of six Indian fact-checking groups to address misinformation in a collaborative manner. All the groups which include, AFP Fact Check, BOOM Live, Factly, India Today Fact Check, Vishvas News and WebQoof, have also been running WhatsApp tiplines as part of the platform’s third party fact-checking program.
The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic that hit India between April-May 2021has been more fatal and faced more complexities than the first wave. Even as the country was struggling to control daily infections and deaths, yet another deadly infection, Mucormycosis (black fungus) in patients treated for COVID-19, created a real scare among people.
In the aftermath of election results being declared in the state of West Bengal in India, the state witnessed multiple incidents of post-poll violence. While this unfolded, social media was rife with messages condemning the violence and criticizing the Trinamool Congress, the party that won the election, for the incidents. However, several images and videos shared in these messages were old, unrelated and used out-of-context.
As several hospitals in the country faced an oxygen shortage, misleading messages were doing rounds on social media that a homeopathic medicine Aspidosperma is a substitute for oxygen for COVID-19 patients.
As India saw a second wave of COVID-19 infections in India, several hospitals faced a shortage of oxygen. Amidst this alarming situation, viral posts on social media claimed Delhi and Maharashtra governments to have failed to install oxygen power plants despite receiving funds from the central government from the PM CARES Fund.
A viral claim that COVID-19 is a cover-up for deaths due to radiations from 5G network towers has made a comeback. In 2020 this claim was in circulation around March, in the early stages of the pandemic. This claim was debunked by fact-checking organizations at that time as well.
As India saw a surge in COVID-19 cases, distressing and unrelated images were shared on social media to depict shortage of oxygen and the plight of patients in the country.
Fact-checkers in India have been on guard against misinformation long before the 2021 Legislative Assembly election schedules were announced in West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. Over the past few months, they have observed a plethora of misinformation coming back in different forms and languages. Some claims, images and videos gain more traction than others and are often ones with communal misinformation and which denigrate political opponents.
The fight against misinformation in India is a challenging one. The size of the country (1.3 billion), the number of people accessing online information (over 600 million internet users), the diversity of languages and issues and the growing political and religious polarization are some of the factors that make the task of addressing misinformation an uphill one. Independent fact-checkers in India have been diligently addressing this challenge despite having small teams and limited resources. Ekta, a consortium of six Indian fact-checking groups, hopes to collectively address misinformation.
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