In flooded state, social media canards pose hurdle

An audio message urging people against making financial contributions to the state has started doing the rounds on WhatsApp

As the state administration, the armed forces, thousands of relief workers and volunteers prepare for a massive rehabilitation drive in Kerala after the devastating floods, the staple social media canards are posing a massive hurdle to it.

An audio message urging people against making financial contributions to the state – the argument being that the affected, most of them financially secure, don’t “need” the money – had started doing the WhatsApp rounds since Saturday. The audio message, attributed to a man identified as Suresh Kochattil, has caused massive outrage.

A video showing a man in army uniform questioning effectiveness of the ongoing rescue and relief operations is the latest in a list of fake messages that have gone viral. The Indian Army has dismissed the fake video and called for public inputs regarding similar disinformation campaigns. “Imposter wearing army combat uniform in video spreading disinformation about rescue & relief efforts. Every effort by all & #IndianArmy aimed to overcome this terrifying human tragedy. Forward disinformation about #IndianArmy on WhatsApp +917290028579. We are at it,” a tweet by the Additional Directorate General of Public Information, Indian Army, said.

Earlier, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had also sought caution against panic-mongers who spread misinformation as the disaster continued to unfold. In the first phase of flooding in the state, fake news regarding “threatening” dam safety and water levels and rumours on an impending fuel shortage had caused problems to the government. As more unverified messages on relief collection are being shared on social media, reports on food and other relief material being left unused have also emerged.

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In flooded state, social media canards pose hurdle

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