Home Media Media mistakes satirical comments for actual one while reporting downrating of MS Excel by 'patriotic protestors'

Media mistakes satirical comments for actual one while reporting downrating of MS Excel by ‘patriotic protestors’

Many of these remarks were very obviously satirical. Lack of comprehension skills or peddling propaganda?

Satire as a form of humour is not something everyone gets. In their mad rush to mock “Hindutva trolls” who had called for a ban on Surf Excel following their Holi ad which spoke of ‘communal harmony’, media houses mistook satirical comments for actual ones.

Many publications reported that ‘offended’ by the new Surf Excel ad, ‘Indians’ (The Quint used the word ‘patriotic‘ in its URL) and ‘trolls’ had mistakenly downrated and left negative reviews for Microsoft Excel. Except, at least some of these comments which were included as being left by ‘trolls’ were actually satirical.

He admits that he was being satirical, and an inside joke for friends, but it blew up overnight. Mostly because Indian media can barely differentiate between satire and reality, especially when they have a narrative to build. Even when ‘Lazy Internet Guy’ (whose ‘review’ on MS Excel was picked up by most media houses after it went viral on social media) explains that it was satirical comment, some people chose to doubt it because ‘only he would know’.

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Surf Excel, is a detergent brand from the FMCG conglomerate Hindustan Unilever Limited, which had recently made a Hinduphobic ad reducing the Kumbh Mela to a place where people go to abandon their ageing parents. The ad on Holi was released soon after the patronising Kumbh Mela ad. In the ad, a small girl makes sure her neighbourhood kids are out of colour so that she could take her Muslim neighbour, also a kid of same age, for namaaz without fear of getting colour splashed at him. The ad drew a lot of flak on social media and people called for a ban on the detergent brand.

Some people then ended up writing a review and downrating Microsoft Excel (instead of Surf Excel) on Google Play Store, many of which were satirical ones. This was essentially a joke on the time when people ended up downrating ‘Snapdeal’ on play store after news that ‘Snapchat’ CEO Evan Speigel had said how Snapchat is not a product for ‘poor countries like India’. Turns out that was also a misleading headline which was based on a lawsuit by an ex-employee Anthony Pampliano, who alleged that Spiegel had said so in a meeting. However, because of similar sounding names, many people ended up downrating Snapdeal instead of Snapchat.

Many people, hence, left a negative comment and downrated MS Excel as a joke.

Review left by one Aditya Bhandari

As seen above, the joke is quite clear that Aditya Bhandari, who claims to be a data scientist and workst extensively on MS Excel, wants it out of the country. Pretty sure he would know the difference between a detergent brand and spreadsheet which gives nightmares to many.

One negative review, one positive one. Balancing it out.

Here, Animesh is giving the app one star to ‘feel validated among his Hindutva brothers’. It is followed by one Kuntal Mondal who is giving it 5 stars because ‘Bhakts’ are giving 1 stars. Animesh above had given 1 star too. However, Animesh, who perhaps thinks is fleunt in sarcasm, did get validated as a ‘Bhakt’, not by ‘Hindutva brothers’ but by one of his own. Not sure who the joke is on here.

Yet another ‘review’

One Rohit also had similar ‘review’ on MS Excel. Unless your comprehension skills are lower than Delhi’s temperature in winters, you should not have problem seeing that either these reviews are left as a joke, or the higher ratings are left by those who didn’t understand that many had left low rating as a joke.

Interestingly, none of these media houses had mentioned even once that there is a possibility that these comments (many of which are apparent) could be satirical or sarcastic. When you have a narrative to peddle, why let rationalism get into your way?

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