Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday has warned people to avoid forwarding messages without verifying them first. He also cautioned citizens against trusting unverified information posted on social media by anti-social elements and said that such people were using social media to “provoke trouble”.
The minister was speaking at the launch of the intelligence wing of the Sashastra Seema Bal in New Delhi, a platform he chose to address the social media menace. The SSB guards India’s borders with Bhutan and Nepal.
Singh’s remarks come days after Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah urged the youth of Gujarat to be wary of the Congress’ social media propaganda against the party.
While social media is an effective and fast communicator, it comes with its own share of perils. In the past few years, ordinary public have been fooled to believe almost every single message they receive on social media.
However, there have been several instances when the BJP’s own representatives have been caught spreading fake social media messages.
- In June this year, Delhi BJP leader Nupur Sharma was booked for passing off 2002 Gujarat riot photos as Bengal’s.
- Former Minister of State and current Railways and Coal Minister, Piyush Goyal had tweeted images of achievements of the Street Lighting Programme of the government, along with a photo of streets in Russia. The tweet was deleted when Janta Ka Reporter highlighted the factual incorrectness through a report. The minister was courageous enough to accept his error then.
- Fashion designer and BJP Maharashtra spokesperson, Shaina NC, shared an old and unrelated picture of Varnika Kundu, who was allegedly stalked by Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala’s son Vikas Barala in Chandigarh last month. The photo, showed Kundu with two men, The tweet suggested that that the men in the photograph are Vikas Barala and Ashish Kumar, a claim Kundu had. When Shaina NC was contacted, she claimed her Twitter account had been hacked.
- BJP Karnataka IT Cell had posted a picture of a potholed road in Mumbai claiming it was Bangalore.
- Vijeta Malik, a BJP Haryana State Executive member had shared a still from a Bhojpuri movie “Aurat Khilona Nahi”. Her post implied it was an actual photo from West Bengal.
- Bollywood actor and parliamentarian Paresh Rawal shared an image from Iraq implying it to be flood rescue operations conducted by the Indian Army in Kashmir.
- National Spokesperson of the BJP Sambit Patra, on a news debate, had held a photoshopped image of the iconic photo captured by Joe Rosenthal of five U.S. Marines and a navy sailor raising an American flag over the Japanese island of Iwo Jima.
- Minister of State, Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Babul Supriyo had shared artist’s impressions of a then yet-to-be constructed bus stand in Rajkot, assuming it was the actual bus stand