In a bid to prove that Central government ban on Chinese apps like TikTok was a bad decision, Kolkata based leftist portal ‘The Telegraph’ today reported a satirical tweet as real.
In an article titled “India kicks out Chinese (apps so far)” published on July 2, 2020, The Telegraph, reported that the banning of an app as popular as TikTok would have an adverse effect on the Indian youths and citizens, as the app provided a source of income for many. However, in a haste to project Modi government’s decision in a bad light, the media house passed off a satirical tweet as a real one.
Major Neelum Singh (Retd.) through his Twitter handle @TheSkinDoctor posted a satirical tweet on his imaginary maid Shazia which was taken on face value by Telegraph.
On 29th June, The Skin Doctor had said how sob stories will flood the internet after the ban on 59 apps including TikTok. Giving an example, he had said, “My maid Shazia’s daughter was a small-time TikTok influencer and used to contribute Rs 3,000-4,000 a month to the modest family earning through TikTok ad. With the TikTok ban, govt has pushed the poor family to the gallows. As if lockdown wasn’t enough!”
At the beginning of the tweet, however, he wrote: “Gear up for stories like”, alluding that the so-called liberals will now begin to give such insipid arguments to justify how the Modi government’s decision to ban the app has taken away a source of income for so many youngsters coming from the humble background.
Telegraph, which the ‘liberals’ hail for its ‘witty’ headlines could not quite comprehend sarcasm.
Telegraph and its biased reportage
Kolkata-based The Telegraph is not quite gold standard in journalism to begin with. For starters, it regularly peddles fake news. Recently, it blamed Hindus for a Muslim man refusing to eat food prepared by a Dalit. Just a month prior to that in March, The Telegraph had compared the Chinese coronavirus COVID-19 to President Ramnath Kovind. The PCI sent a notice to The Telegraph for violating journalistic norms.
After the abrogation of Article 370, which made Jammu & Kashmir an integral part of India, The Telegraph had wrongly identified pro-Kashmir integration activists as those protesting against abrogation of Article 370. In January last year, The Telegraph was caught spreading dangerous lies regarding polio vaccines in India.
During the run-up to the 2019 General Elections, The Telegraph, in its editorial, shed all neutrality and claimed that removing PM Modi from power is the only hope for India’s redemption. It also very casually passes off opinions as ‘fact-checks’.
Passing off satire as real news
This is not the first time satire has been mistaken and knowingly or unknowingly passed off as real news. In fact, in April this year, Major Neelum Singh (Retd)’s satirical tweet, which had ‘satire’ marked on it, drew an FIR against him in Telangana. Prior to that, Congress had maliciously cropped a satirical article on the Kumbh Mela and passed it off as ‘scam in Kumbh’. Scientist and columnist Dr Anand Ranganath’s art of satire is often mistaken for real news. Similarly, many news portals have also ‘fact-checked’ satirical posts and had even given a verdict that it is authentic.
India imposes ban on 59 Chinese apps including TikTok on the grounds of jeopardising its sovereignty and integrity
The Indian government has red-flagged usage of 59 China-linked apps, including TikTok as being a threat to national security. The Ministry of Information Technology, invoking its power under section 69A of Information Technology Act, with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009 has ordered a block on the use of 59 apps saying that these apps are “engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state and public order”.