Fake news spreads unabated on social media after polls
New Delhi: Posts containing fake news continued to flourish on social media platforms after the end of the Lok Sabha elections that saw the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) returning to power with a massive win.
Celebrations followed the results that pave the way for Modi to become the Prime Minister of the country for the second consecutive term. Some distributed ladoos to celebrate the victory. A few others spread fake news.
A post claiming that "Welcome Modi Ji" has been written on all the city buses of London soon started doing the rounds on social media platforms.
The claims were found to be fake by fact-checking platform BOOM. The images used for the posts originated in 2015, when a bus named "Modi Express" was launched by the Indians living in the UK, the fact checkers found.
Some even circulated a video on Facebook that claimed that a Gujrati man got so elated with Modi's re-election that he showered cash on people in Milton, Canada. The caption that accompanied the video claimed that the man made a lot of profit after the share market responded positively to Modi's re-election.
BOOM traced the viral video to the Instagram account of a Detroit, US based man. It found that the video, originally shot in New York, was uploaded much before the election results in India were declared and it had nothing to do with the celebration of BJP's victory.
On May 23, the day the results of the Lok Sabha polls were declared, a video that showed Modi with his mother went viral on Facebook. While social media users claimed that the video was shot after BJP's landslide victory in the elections, fact checking website Alt News traced the video to 2014.
BOOM also found that following the victory of the BJP, a quote that was falsely attributed to Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan in the past resurfaced on WhatsApp.
"I would leave India if Modi becomes the PM of this country," the actor was falsely quoted as saying in the post that demanded that the actor should now "apologise or leave the country as PM Modi is back".
BOOM traced the quote to a fake tweet and fake news report that celebrated the 2018 April Fool's Day with the false information.
These posts, however, are only the tip of the iceberg. Many more fake posts are doing the rounds on social media with some even falsely claiming that six lakh votes polled in favour of Congress President Rahul Gandhi in Kerala's Wayanad mysteriously disappeared from the records.
According to BOOM Founder Govindraj Ethiraj, the spread of fake news reached an "all-time high" in the run up to the 2019 general election.
The flow of fake news after the election results suggests that the tide of misinformation on social media is unlikely to stop any time soon.
"The biggest challenge to fighting fake new is that over 300 million of the 550 million smartphone and broadband users in the country are low on literacy and digital literacy and are especially gullible," leading tech policy and media consultant Prasanto K. Roy earlier told IANS.