Fake surveys fly in thick and fast as campaigning enters final leg

Fake surveys fly in thick and fast as campaigning enters final leg

As campaigning intensifies in poll-bound Karnataka, opinion polls are among the tools being used by parties and the media to ascertain the voting pattern for parties and candidates.

An opinion poll has been doing the rounds on WhatsApp with the logo of BBC and its link. The survey claims that the BJP will get a simple majority. The screenshot of the WhatsApp message says 10.2 lakh people of Karnataka took part in the survey conducted by 'Janta Ki Baat'. 

The survey predicts around 135 seats for the BJP, up 95 seats from 2013. The Congress, the survey claims, will be reduced to 35, the JD(S) 45 and Others will grab 19 seats. 

Interestingly, the total number of seats, according to the survey, is 234, 10 seats more than the strength of the Assembly - 224.

Alt News checked the veracity of the survey and found there is no group called 'Janta Ki Baat' and the BBC logo was used to give authenticity. BBC India and BBC News Press Team clarified that they have not commissioned pre-election surveys in India.


The secret US survey


A confidential letter is circulating on Whatsapp. According to it, a US government secret survey has revealed that the JD(S) would be the largest party with 90 seats, and the Congress and the BJP would come second and third with 70 and 63 seats, respectively. The letter addressed to Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, read: "It is surprising to see a little known small time party Janatha Dal Secular (JDS) emerging a single majority party."  

The letter further states that since a majority of American companies are located in state capital Bengaluru, the US secretary of state must maintain a cordial relationship with JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda. 

The letter dated May 4 has multiple discrepancies. To begin with, neither does the letter have the official emblem of the US Embassy nor a signature. A classic case of another fake message through WhatsApp to influence voters.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah posted a link on Twitter of a story published by thestate.news which debunks the American survey. He also advised all the parties, including his own, to stick to the truth.

Recently an online portal called Bangalore Herald ran a story claiming that C Force pre-poll predicted the BJP to be the single-largest party in the election. 

According to the news item, the BJP will get 95 seats while the Congress will get 85, JD(S) 40 and Others 4 seats. The website was hosted on March 17. The news items on its homepage are linked to other websites like Times of India, The Hindu Businessline, Scroll.in etc. There is no navigation option on the site. Moreover, there is no agency called C Force. In fact, the agency in question here is Gurugram-based C Fore, but their survey result is out and entirely different from the one featured on the website.

Thanks to WhatsApp, hoax messages and misinformation can be circulated to a larger set of people than earlier. The end-to-end encryption makes ensures that the originator of such messages remains anonymous. The parties contesting in Karnataka have also created multiple WhatsApp groups to spread the message to booth-level workers and voters.

So far, five major surveys have been released - Times Now-VMR, ABP-CSDS, India Today-Karvy, Jan Ki Baat and C Fore. Among them, four surveys have predicted a hung Assembly, while C Fore pre-poll survey gives a simple majority to the Congress with 118 to 128 seats.