If designated fact-checkers are the ones spreading fake news, who will fact-check the fact-checkers?
Mohammed Zubair, who runs the supposed fact-checking portal Alt News, today shared a bit of information, right when the donation drive for the Ram Mandir is in full swing. “On the pretext of building a gaushala and carrying out prayers in the temple, villagers donated Rs. 15-20 lakh to a priest. A little while later, the saffron-clad monk shut down the temple and disappeared, leaving the villagers with no recourse,” he tweeted, while attaching a news clipping.
This news was alarming, and had the potential to spread panic — Hindu saints are currently collecting donations for the Ram Mandir across the country, and people are donating in large amounts. If word spread that these saints would run away with the collections, the donations for the Ram Mandir — and the construction of the Mandir itself — could be adversely impacted.
But even though the bits of news had come from an official “fact-checker”, twitter user Befitting Facts pointed out that all wasn’t quite what it seemed. The newspaper clipping that Mohammed Zubair had shared was at least 4 years old, having been first shared on 14th July 2017 on Twitter.
After this was pointed out to Mohammed Zubair by several twitter users, he deleted the tweet. There has, however, been no apology or clarification that’s been forthcoming.
But even though the misleading news was deleted quickly thanks to eagle-eyed social media users, questions still remain — why had this bit of news resurfaced after all these years? And why was it amplified on Twitter by a designated fact-checker, right as the donation drive for the Ram Mandir is in full swing? Was it a complete co-incidence, or a more sinister plot to derail the construction of the Ram Mandir itself?