IndiaSpend’s factchecker.in has won an international award for its ‘Hate Crime Watch’ database where it fudges and manipulates data to peddle the narrative that Muslims are disproportionately the victims of hate crimes. The award was presented by the Global Editors Network in their Data Journalism Awards for 2019.
The Jury remarked, “The Factchecker.in team have performed an important public service in tracking and making available a database of religion-based hate crimes in India, filling a key gap in official statistics. The collaborative effort allows users to better understand trends in hate crime incidents, including by geography, local government in power or religious group targeted – and that, hopefully, can lead to a better-informed public and better public policy on this issue.”
At OpIndia.com, we have regularly demonstrated on several occasions the extremely problematic aspects of IndiaSpend’s Hate Crime Watch. Swati Goel Sharma of Swarajya Mag, too, has busted the intended narrative on several occasions.
Amusingly enough, FactChecker has admitted in the past that it does not even aspire to be an ‘exhaustive record of all religious identity-based hate crimes in India’ but seeks to ‘identify patterns’ for public scrutiny. In absence of exhaustive records on an issue as sensitive as hate crimes, how can any meaningful conclusions be drawn from the data?
Anyone who knows anything about data understands that if you are seeking to identify a pattern from a given set of data that will hold true for the larger population, then you need to ensure that the given set of data is representative of the larger population. It appears that FactChecker has made it a habit of not doing that, our comprehensive report on the matter that illustrates this fact can be read here.
There have been occasions when FactChecker has deliberately twisted the facts of the matter to increase the number of Muslim victims in its database by including cases where the victim and the perpetrator both belonged to the Muslim community. On other occasions, the organization has continued to maintain a case in its hate crime database even after it was proved that no such incident occurred merely because the alleged victim was from the Muslim community and the alleged perpetrators Hindu. According to the luminaries at FactChecker, the Pulwama Terror Attack wasn’t a hate crime either even though the Terrorist himself proclaimed that he was carrying the attack against ‘Cow-Piss drinkers’.
At the end of the day, FactChecker’s award for its Hate Crime Database only reflects the falling standards of journalism. In the past few years, the mainstream media has gotten nearly every major story wrong big time. While the American Media was having an orgy over Donald Trump’s supposed collusion with the Russians, a myth that was busted by the Mueller report, in India, every major media outlet missed the tectonic shift in Indian polity that awarded Narendra Modi an even greater majority in the Parliament.
The troubling part about the whole matter is that the awards are backed by the Google News Lab. Simon Rogers, Data Editor at Google News Lab, is the director of the competition. Google, in recent times, has been accused of political biases itself and videos had surfaced of its adherence to the most rabid form of left-wing identity politics. The Tech Giant has also been accused in the past of manipulating search results to favour a certain political entity or suppress conservative political opinions.