Right-wing propaganda blog OpIndia’s attempts to mock journalist backfires, left with egg on face amidst allegation of plagiarism

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Right-wing propaganda blog OpIndia has often found itself amidst embarrassing situations for peddling fake news in the past. But, this public shaming hasn’t deterred those running the blog from heaping more embarrassment on themselves. The latest in the series is how the blog’s attempts to mock a respectable journalist backfired spectacularly. And if its own gaffe wasn’t embarrassing enough, the blog soon faced an allegation of plagiarism from another journalist.

OpIndia

It all started with the OpIndia blog targeting Pallavi Ghosh, who’s the political editor of CNN-News18, for her seemingly innocuous tweet on the box office earnings of Uri The Surgical Strikewhich was released earlier this month. The film has gone on to collect more than Rs 100 crore at the box office. Reacting to the news, Pallavi had tweeted, “Uri the movie crosses the one crore mark …”

Clearly, Pallavi inadvertently missed two zeroes in her tweet and she wouldn’t have been the first person to commit this oversight while posting a tweet. Now, this was a harmless oversight. Unlike Facebook, Twitter doesn’t allow one to edit an already posted tweet. This, however, did not warrant a full-blown blog unless the person writing the blog had a hidden agenda to cause public shame to the journalist in question.

However, OpIndia’s attempts to publicly shame Pallavi backfired spectacularly. The blog that chose to mock a journalist for oversight in a tweet, itself committed the same mistake in the very same story. User Sam Jawed, who also writes for fact-checking website Alt News, pointed out how OpIndia’s blog had written Rs 115.87 as the film’s earnings instead of Rs 115.87 CRORE. Jawed posted the screenshots of OpIndia’s blog to highlight how the blog managers had egg on their face. She wrote, “Serious question. @_pallavighosh tweets 1cr instead of 100cr and @OpIndia_com writes an article on how she became a laughing stock on Twitter. And in that article OpIndia writes Rs.115.87 instead of Rs.115.87cr. So what does it make OpIndia?”

The propaganda blog wanted to mock a journalist for inadvertently forgetting to add two zeroes in her tweet, but ended up earning public ridicule for itself for writing a full blog by forgetting to add SEVEN zeroes.

As expected, OpIndia became a butt of jokes on social media. User Gautam Trivedi wrote, “Opindia and Swarajymag are a bunch of jokers flocked together.” “Hahahahahah.. this is so subtle for unstabledesi,” wrote user Detective in a dig at blog’s manager Nupur Sharma, who uses UnsubtleDesi as her Twitter handle.

But Sharma’s embarrassment did not here. Journalist Jaskirat Singh Bawa took to Twitter to allege that OpIndia had plagiarised his piece of work without giving him credit. The photo of Pallavi, used by OpIndia, originally belonged to Jaskirat, who wrote, “Damnit @OpIndia_com. You also stole my picture. No credit given for the lead image in the article. Shoddy job.”

His subsequent tweet, which also had the evidence of how OpIndia had indulged in plagiarism, read, “The image was offered for use only with credit as per the license. Part of my 2012 (now abandoned) project profiling colleagues in media.”

Faced with double-embarrassment, the OpIndia blog page soon replaced its original photo with another photo of Pallavi. This is the photo the propaganda blog had used while posting the story on social media. (See below)

Public shaming forced the blog owner to replace Pallavi’s photo. (See below)

User Jayant Bhushan spoke for many when he tweeted concluding ‘Karma is a bitch.’ His tweet read, “@OpIndia_com mocked @_pallavighosh over a typographical error she made in her tweet & they wrote a full article about her mistake by making a same mistake & eventually mocked themselves. Karma is a bitch.”

The blog page later replied to Jaskirat’s tweet and wrote, “Hello. Thanks for pointing it out. The intention was certainly not to “steal” an image. We have replaced the lead image in the article. Apologies.” Jaskirat replied, “Alright. “Used without permission”. But just an FYI. Images under Creative Commons are available for use with attribution and link back. For future reference and use.”

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