2016: Top 10 fake news forwards that we (almost) believed

2016: Top 10 fake news forwards that we (almost) believed

Submitted by Rashmi on Tue, 2016-12-27 11:16 From currency to salt-very little escaped the reach of fake or fabricated news in 2016. Rumours spread from WhatsApp and other social media into the mainstream media. Institutions such as Unesco and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had to step in and tell us what was true. Even Facebook and Google, two of the worlds biggest internet companies, sat up and took notice. Such news can have widespread reach: India is one of the biggest markets for several social media and communication companies-it has 160 million of WhatsApp's one billion-plus monthly active users, 148 million Facebook users, and over 22 million Twitter accounts. The potency of fabricated news came into focus after the 2016 US presidential elections. In the run-up to the ballot, fake news on the elections drew more engagement on Facebook than top-performing stories from major news outlets such as The New York Times, CNN, NBC News, or The Wall Street Journal, this BuzzFeed News analysis found. Other countries witnessed the rise of fake news too, according to this Guardian report, rendering it a global phenomenon in 2016. Here are some of the most popular Indian fake news stories of 2016: 1. Unesco declares PM Modi best Prime Minister Unesco has been one of the primary alleged sources of fake news in India. In June 2016, fake news broke out on WhatsApp groups, and other social media, that the UN cultural agency had awarded Prime Minister Narendra Modi the title of best prime minister in the world. That rumour is still circulating on social media. 2. Unesco declares "Jana Gana Mana" best national anthem Another favourite Indian rumour involving Unexco is the claim that India's national anthem -- "Jana Gana Mana" -- has been declared the "Best National Anthem In The World". The fake news started in 2008 through email and then caught the UN agency's attention. "We are aware of several blogs in India reporting this story, but can assure you that Unesco has made no such announcement concerning the anthem of India or any country," an official told India Today in 2008. Circulation of the rumour peaked around India's Independence Day in 2016. 3. Unesco declares new Rs 2,000 note best currency in the world Another fake Unesco certificate for India touched upon the notebandi crisis, as messages claimed the organisation had certified the new Rs 2,000 note as the "best currency in the world". The message, shared widely on WhatsApp, claimed "Dr Saurabh Mukherjee, head of cultural awareness department of Unesco announced this to media". The rumours caught the eye of the BBC, which reported that "thousands" of Indian WhatsApp users had "forwarded the message along with joyful emojis". 4. New notes have a GPS chip to detect black money Another notebandi rumour proliferated when PM Modi announced the withdrawal of old Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes on November 8, 2016. In less than an hour, rumours circulating on WhatsApp of a nano geo-positioning system (GPS) tracking device embedded in the new Rs 2,000 notes gained traction. This chip, the messages said, would alert authorities if black money was hoarded . The nano-GPS chip does not need any power source, the forward said, according to a Firstpost report. "It only acts as a signal reflector. When a satellite sends a signal requesting location the NGC reflects back the signal from the location, giving precise location coordinates, and the serial number of the currency back to the satellite, this way every chip-embedded currency can be easily tracked