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Mother of all ironies: Karnataka Congress govt ropes in Alt News, with a history of spreading fake news, for fighting misinformation

This has led to speculations by netizens that the Karnataka Congress government is mulling to monetarily benefit Alt News by availing its services using taxpayer's money.

The Congress-led government in Karnataka is setting up a ‘fact check unit’ to combat ‘misinformation’ with the help of notorious fake news peddlers such as Alt News.

Within two months of forming the government, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah directed the Departments of Information Technology, Biotechnology and Home Affairs to take action against those who supposedly post fake news.

As per a report published by the Kannada newspaper Vijayvani on Monday (July 24), the Karnataka government will seek help from dubious fact-checking portal ‘Alt News’ to fight misinformation.

Screengrab of the news report by Vijayvani

“The government will open a separate fact-check unit. It will also take the help of fact-checking agencies like Alt News, Boom Live, E Din, Logical(ly), etc,” the report read.

“There are two types of fake news attacks on social media. One is to defame personally and the other is against the government. Both types of verification will be done here. Action will be taken against such posts if the government is dragged into personal defamation and the other is to incite communal sentiments by targeting the government as a whole,” it further added.

Earlier in June, Congress MLA Priyank Kharge publicly displayed his camaraderie with Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair by referring to the latter as ‘chief.’ Interestingly, Kharge heads the same IT and biotechnology Departments, which are now entrusted to set up the ‘fact-checking unit.’

This has led to speculations by netizens that the Karnataka Congress government is mulling to monetarily benefit Alt News by availing its services using taxpayer’s money.

In a tweet on Monday (July 24), popular Twitter user ‘Mr Sinha’ wrote, “So Karanataka govt is planning to build a system to punish “fake news peddlers” with the help of Fault news. It’s same as US joining hands with Pakistan to control Terrorism.”

“On a serious note, it seems like INC Priyank Kharge is planning to reward them using govt’s fund in the name of fact-checking,” he emphasised.

Screengrab of the tweet by Mr Sinha

Alt News and its notorious history of spreading fake news

The ‘fact checking’ portal, run by Pratik Sinha and Mohammed Zubair, has disseminated and amplified fake news on several instances. This is without accounting for the numerous lies peddled by the founders of the Alt News themselves.

For instance, on Sunday (July 23), Zubair shared a cropped video of Kanwariyas pelting stones in Bareilly to hide the fact that it was carried out in retaliation of an unproved attack by Islamists. By shrewdly avoiding the context of the video, he thus insinuated that it was somehow a ‘free-for-all’ case of stone pelting.

In June this year, he falsely suggested that YouTuber Akshat Shrivastava took money from the Union government to criticise the Congress party. Shrivastava later took to Twitter to lambast Zubair for his ‘half-baked research’ and ‘baseless allegations.’

A month earlier, Alt News co-founder and his lackey shared a cropped video to falsely claim that BJP Tamil Nadu chief, Annamalai, claimed credit for CSK’s win in the Indian Premier League.

Zubair had also used misinformation to target the BJP over the inauguration of the new Parliament building. The ‘ignorant’ fact-checker made it clear that he did not know the difference between the ‘foundation’ and ‘inauguration’ of a structure.

Alt News also attempted to shield Congress workers, who were allegedly heard raising ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogans. Initially, he had claimed that there was no contentious sloganeering but later claimed that the proof was inconclusive.

It almost seemed like Zubair knew his assertions had been busted. However, to save face, he claimed that he spoke to Inspector Dayanand for Belagavi, who said that they had not confirmed yet whether the slogans were Pakistan Zindabad or Asif Sait Zindabad.

His frequent lies have been the fodder for Islamists both in India and abroad. On 14 June 2021, Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair took to Twitter to claim that an elderly Muslim man, Abdul Samad Saifi, in Ghaziabad was assaulted and forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’.

The disinformation was shared recently by Majid Freeman, the Islamist who has been infamous for fanning the anti-Hindu violence in the United Kingdom’s Leicester in 2022. Despite such a history of peddling fake news, the Congress government has now decided to onboard ‘Alt News’ in its ‘fact check unit.’

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