Right-wing blog OpIndia has been notorious for peddling fake news against anyone it considers critical of the BJP, the RSS or Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Time and again, the blog page has had to face humiliation after being caught peddling fake news. Its biggest shame has come from the International Fact-Checking Network, which has rejected the right-wing blog’s application for a certification to be recognised as a global non-partisan fact-checker.
While rejecting the OpIndia’s application, IFCN made disparaging comments about the blog page’s questionable editorial ethos.
The IFCN’s assessor, Kanchan Kaur, wrote, “Though the fact checks cover a variety of subjects, they do concentrate on a certain political organization or organizations with a certain ideology. Of the ten fact-checks given (by OpIndia) as examples, nearly all are focused on trying to disprove information put out by a certain political party or by organizations that are seemingly inclined toward that political party. Or, have writing that indicates that an opposition party is either behind it or is taking advantage of it. Its method in reaching or presenting its conclusions presents evidence of potential bias.”
Kaur added, “Also, in the page where the website invites contributions from readers, it clearly indicates its bias. I quote from the website: “We won’t entertain the usual left-liberal narrative”.”
The IFCN also raised questions on the questionable methodology that OpIndia adopted during its so-called fact-checking exercises. “The applicant links to the sources of the claim is fact-checking and evidence it uses to fact check it. However, more often than not, the evidence that is used is usually from speeches made by political parties or the government, which are merely countering the claims. Data is rarely used, and then only to counter data claims made by political or other organizations.”
Additionally, the IFCN continued, most claims countered by the propaganda blog page is by making ‘disparaging comments (for instance, calling the portals ‘habitual offender and regularly publishes fake stories’) about the organisations that published the claim, or by quoting someone with little credibility who generally agrees with their point of view.’
The IFCN also raised questions on the source of funding of OpIndia, which was acquired by another right-wing website Swarajya in the past. Among the donors of Swarajya include Bengaluru-based Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation. The IFCN wrote, “The applicant lists its owner but offers no further details on funding.”
The IFCN also mocked OpIndia for flaunting its biases and yet calling itself a news website. It said, “However, it does make it clear that it will accept only one point of view. I quote: “We won’t entertain the usual left-liberal narrative. We are for free speech, but we are not obliged to carry such articles. Internet is a free space and you will get lot many platforms to voice your opinion. The mainstream media in India loves the left-liberal narrative, and we don’t want to mirror the mainstream media. We will stick to a right-liberal narrative”.”
The concluding part of the rejection note stated, “The applicant does not have a clear corrections policy. Of the two examples provided of corrections, one has a note at the end that they had published a satirical article, but it does not indicate that the article under contention is the one under which the note is published. Also, the article is quite replete with deprecating names for people mentioned in the article and quotes anonymous sources. The other example, too, indicates that a political party that just won the elections in Rajasthan is behind the incident.”