On April 1, Dainik Jagran’s ‘fact checking’ affiliate ‘Vishvas News’ published an article titled “Fact Check: राहुल गाँधी का डांस वाला वीडियो पुलवामा अटैक वाले दिन का नहीं है” (Fact check: Rahul Gandhi’s dance video is not from the day of Pulwama attack). The same article was published in the Dainik Jagran’s print edition on April 4.
In the said ‘fact check’, Vishvas News has ‘fact-checked’ a viral image where one Kuldeep Singh had shared two screenshots of Rahul Gandhi’s dancing video, one of which was a screenshot from Congress’ official account.
Vishvas News claims that the original poster (OP) shared multiple screenshots, including one which was from verified account of Congress, claiming Rahul Gandhi had held a rally in Valsad, Gujarat. Vishvas News relies on newspapers like Indian Express and others which had reports of Rahul Gandhi’s Valsad rally. Surprisingly, it does not check Congress’ official account which had also tweeted about Rahul Gandhi’s rally in Valsad.
Not only that, Vishvas News very conveniently does not verify the right image in the OP’s post, which was a tweet from Congress’ official handle, which showed Rahul Gandhi dancing in Valsad after the Pulwama attack. Following public outrage, Congress had deleted those tweets later.
OpIndia had reported the story in detail here.
Vishvas News not only ignores this aspect, but then goes on to ‘fact check’ another image in the OP, which was a video of Rahul Gandhi dancing from a rally in Rourkela.
While part of the post shared by the OP was indeed false and misleading, the fact that a ‘fact-checker’ chose to not report that Rahul Gandhi was indeed dancing right after Pulwama attack, and put up a misleading and confusing headline to its readers is worrisome. More so because Vishvas News is empowered by Facebook to ‘fact-check’ news and claims on the social networking platform.
Facebook had recently added five ‘fact-checkers’ to its roster which are ‘certified through a ‘non-partisan‘ International Fact-Checking Network. These were added to ‘fight spread of false news on Facebook, especially ahead of the 2019 general elections.
If such ‘independent’ fact-checkers flag news like Rahul Gandhi dancing in Valsad right after Pulwama attack as ‘fake’, even those pages or profiles on Facebook that share the genuine news could be reported for spreading ‘fake news’. One may try to argue that Rahul Gandhi was not aware of the casualties at the time of his dance, but to declare a genuine incident as ‘fake’ raises questions.
Facebook has often been accused of bias and now it is worrying when a ‘fact-checker’ on their roster to independently fact-check viral news is found indulging in spreading misleading information to confuse the readers right before the elections.