First posted February 21, 2019
NB: The CRPF officers and jawans deserve our thanks for defending the truth in their hour of grief; and exposing the fraud being perpetrated on the country by the fake news brigade. The measures they have taken to combat communal propaganda is in marked contrast to the thuggish behaviour of the front organisations of the Sangh Parivar, who have already driven out hundreds of Kashmiri students from Uttarakhand. I salute the CRPF’s fact-checking team. DS
On 14 February, a convoy ferrying Central Reserve Police Force soldiers was attacked in Pulwama, Kashmir. A few hours after the news broke, another team of CRPF jawans sat huddled together in an office in Delhi, poring over the many photos flooding their computer screens and phones. “There was a flood of posts and photos and videos. Some outright gory and others filled with communal hatred. It was disturbing,” says M Dinakaran, DIG and Chief Spokesperson, CRPF. “Some of the posts were almost an insult to our jawans. They did not lay down their lives so that their death could become the cause for communal hatred. We knew we had to do something,” he says. This thought is what gave birth to the fact-checking team formed by the CRPF. Sitting in Delhi and a few other regional offices, a team of 12 to 15 people has since 14 February, debunked at least five posts a day.
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Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a senior CRPF official who is part of the social media team dedicatedly monitoring fake news in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack, says, “While we were busy with the last rites of our colleagues and friends and arranging help for the injured, we noticed that many wrong and fake posts were being circulated on WhatsApp.” He explains that the posts included wrong photos of the last remains of jawans and photos that claimed to show the jawans before the attack. “Some of the posts were being spread by miscreants wanting to create a sense of communal unrest. Some posts were demeaning and filled with hatred. We started collecting and monitoring all of them.”
The team decided to use the three pronged approach – monitor, analyse and debunk. “We reached out to all our personnel and our civilian contacts and asked them to send any images and posts they thought were false. We also deputed more people to the team who based in different regional offices across the country started monitoring content on social media platforms,” The photos and posts which could be debunked using simple research and searches were done so easily. “For some posts we had our men go to the ground and collect real time information.”
The official provided BOOM with a screenshot wherein the team has replied to a member informing him that a post claiming 13 sniffer dogs died in the Pulwama, is fake….