When the internet first entered our homes, as a beacon of all things progressive and hopeful, who would have imagined that years later we'd be anxiously Google-ing every WhatsApp forward that came our (or our parent's way)? Or that we would become sceptical of primetime television news?
If Netflix's The Social Dilemma couldn't convince you of just how dangerously powerful misinformation (and disinformation) on the internet can be, let's take a look at a few instances back home.
With the ongoing 'Delhi Chalo' protests organised by farmers in North India, there's been plenty of photos, videos and other information circulating on the internet. We take a look at six things that social media told you about the farmers' protest that were, in fact, actually untrue:
1. No, Shaheen Bagh's Bilkis Dadi Was Not At Farmers' Protest
If you spend even a little time on the internet, I'm sure you must have come across a viral collage of Bilkis, the Shaheen Bagh dadi who was recently recognised by TIME magazine, alongside another old woman who can be seen hunching and has a yellow scarf around her head.
Why wouldn't you believe it? After all, Kangana Ranaut shared the photo alleging that Bilkis dadi is available for "100 Rs." So did a certain individual called Gaurav Pradhan, who has 41,000 followers on Twitter.
Now I know *sometimes* it's hard to tell old people apart.. (guilty!) Par thodi toh research kar lo yaar?
After fact-checking, we learned that the photo of the other elderly woman is - 1) not from the ongoing farmers' protest and 2) the woman is not Bilkis Bano! Bilkis, as it turns out, is still firmly situated at her home in Shaheen Bagh.
Fun fact: Bilkis dadi did eventually make it to the farmers' protest today (1 December).
BTW, Kangana has since deleted that tweet so don't go looking for it, okay?
2. A Muslim Man Impersonating as a Sikh Man? Didn't Happen
A video of cops forcibly taking a man's turban off his head has gone viral, with misleading claims about the man's religion.
Um, first of all, it's literally none of anyone's concern what a protestor's religion is.. anyway.
The video was being shared on social media with claims about how the Muslim man had dressed up as a Sikh in order to incite violence at the farmers' protest. How far did this fake news travel? It was retweeted by Union Minister Giriraj Singh.
Turns out, the video is from a 2011 protest in Mohali, Punjab.
Now that we know the truth, can we just take a moment to focus on how cops really should not be manhandling *anyone* like that - regardless of religion!
3. Pro-Pak Slogans at 'Delhi Chalo' Protests? Fake News
A video of a man raising pro-Khalistan and pro-Pakistan slogans at a protest has gone viral. Amidst the ongoing protests, BJP leader Priti Gandhi ended up retweeting the video with the caption, "Raising pro-Khalistan slogans and holding Pakistan flags at a #FarmersProtest?? Are these really farmers?? (sic)"
The tweet has now been deleted.
The Quint was able to trace it back to the UK, 2019.
Priti Gandhi's Twitter account is verified, so I guess the lesson here is to remember that not everything shared by a blue-tick account is necessarily true!
4. Image of Protestors Blocking The Roads Is Not From Delhi Chalo Protest
The thing about protests is that they can all look quite similar..
Recently, a photo of people blocking a street as a sign of protest was circulated under the pretence that it was taken at the recent farmers' protest. It went viral on both Facebook and Twitter.
Once again, not true.
The Quint found that the photo was, indeed, from a farmers' protest. Just not the ongoing one. The image was traced back to a farmers' protest in Thane, Maharashtra in 2018. The photo had been tweeted by @mumbailivenews on Twitter.
5. Image of Sikh Men Protesting Abrogation of Article 370? Fake News
Recently, an image of Sikh men holding a poster that reads, 'Restore Article 370 and 35A' went viral, with many claiming that the photo was taken at the Delhi Chalo protests.
This was conveniently used to shift the narrative, with several users alleging that the protests were not about the farm laws but something else entirely.
The truth? The photo can be traced back to 2019 and is actually from a protest that was held to oppose the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A... naturally. Why would farmers suddenly abandon their cause and pick up a different one midway, anyway??
6. No, Woman Who Visited Hathras Victim's Family Wasn't at the Protest
Recently, a photograph of a group of people standing with what appears to be the flags of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) was shared widely on social media.
Many claimed to identify the woman in the photo as Dr Rajkumari Bansal, the same woman who had visited the Hathras victim’s family, was accused of having Naxal links and pretending to be her sister-in-law.
First things first, Dr Bansal confirmed to The Quint that she wasn't at the protest. Also, the image was traced back to February 2020. So, obviously, it couldn't have been from the ongoing protests.
The fake narrative here at play? That the ongoing protests are politically motivated and that those protesting are not 'real farmers' - but here's the thing, you can not be a farmer and still support farmers and show up at the protests. Right?
. Read more on Social Buzz by The Quint.After Days of Stand-Off, Govt Begins Talks With Protesting Farmers6 Untrue Things Twitter Tried To Tell You About Farmers’ Protest . Read more on Social Buzz by The Quint.