Fake news is a persistent problem in this day and age. Amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, rumours and fake news had been spreading constantly through various platforms. Against this backdrop the Press Information Bureau had set up a Twitter handle to fact check and debunk incorrect information.
On Friday PIB Fact Check took to Twitter to say that an article by The Wire was “Fake News”. Tagging journalist Rohini Singh the fact checking handle said that the publication’s claim – ‘that the that the Dhaman-I ventilators at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital are substandard and were purchased’ – was false.
“According to Govt of Gujarat, the said ventilators were not purchased but donated & are based on required medical standards,” the Twitter handle wrote.
Singh was quick to counter the allegation, calling it a fake fact check, and pointing out that the report in question had quoted doctors who had written to the state government, pointing out that the ventilators were “substandard”.
“Second, the Gujarat Health Secretary claims government of India through HLL Lifecare has given an order to purchase these faulty ventilators,” Singh tweeted.
In a follow-up tweet she added that the publication was not claiming the faulty ventilators were purchased by the gujarat government.
“It reports how despite complaints on faulty ventilators by doctors at the hospital, Gujarat government kept defending them. Like PIB is defending them now,” she added.
The Wire’s founding editor Siddharth Varadarajan took to Twitter wondering at the fact check.
“PIB/PMO, u had whole day to refute The Wire story by Rohini Singh and THIS is your “fact check”?! My response: 1. It is Guj Govt docs who said ventltr is no good. 2. We never said Guj “bought” them. 3. GoG’s JRavi is quoted saying GoI ordering 5000 (sic)” he tweeted in response.
Now, it must be mentioned that a fact check in the regular sense of the word involves corroboration of the claims made, and counters them with evidence. For PIB however, the evidence appears to be the word of the Gujarat government – the same entity that The Wire had alleged was part of the problem. In this sense, one cannot really call this a “fact check”. Many on Twitter were quick to point this out.
“PIB response says ‘According to the Govenrment of Gujarat’ lol some credible sources that is to counter a report which found so many blunders in the same Gujarat Government actions!! Wah” commented one Twitter user.
“How is this fact check and not just Gujarat govt's claim in response to the story?” wondered another.
Take a look at some of the comments: