In what comes as the latest instalment in the perennial comedy of errors that Twitter keeps throwing up, some of the most notable liberal names on the social networking website were forced to gulp down their amour propre after sharing fake tweets without verifying their authenticity.
The contention was over a tweet by journalist Stuti Mishra which alleged that columnist Shefali Vaidya had passed off imitation jewellery worth Rs 200 as gold neckwear set bought from Tanishq worth over Rs 1 lakh.
Mishra shared screenshots of tweets ascribed to Vaidya where the latter was appearing to reject one "Luminous gold neckwear set of INR 112484 price" as protest against the recent controversial Tanishq ad.
Readers will do well to remember that the advertisement on interfaith love by jewellery brand Tanishq had only just triggered a furious backlash on social media with some accusing the jewellery brand of promoting 'love jihad'.
Since one could, in theory, as easily call Shefali Vaidya a noted flagbearer of Hindu rights on social media, and since she had earlier condemned Tanishq for the ad, the tweets ascribed to her (apparently hilarious) rejection of Tanishq jewellery immediately baited the liberal crowd, who took it upon themselves to engage in bad faith mockery of her without even verifying if the tweets were true.
Among the accounts mocking Vaidya for 'lying' over the price of the jewellery were activist Saket Gokhale, and Twitter handles with a fairly significant follower count such as @Cheap_News and @schotchism.
Soon, however, Shefali Vaidya herself came to her own defence and defiantly challenged the tweets ascribed to her after clarifying them as fake. She maintained that she had never made any such tweets and personally responded to numerous individuals who attributed the tweet to her, asking them to "either delete it or be ready for legal action."
Later, Vaidya actually addressed the issue in a separate tweet while calling out at the same time the news outlet that Stuti Mishra is associated with - the British web portal 'The Independent'.
"Hi @Independent, your Indian correspondent @StuteeMishra is sharing #faketweets attributing them to me. Do you REALLY want such a low IQ contributor? Don’t you have ANY editorial standards AT ALL?" wrote Vaidya, disturbed by the erroneous attribution to clearly photoshopped fake tweets.
If any doubt had still been left over in the minds of the facts-and-logic brigade, it had to be ostensibly washed away when the fact-checking website Alt News clarified that Shefali Vaidya had, in fact, not passed off imitation jewellery as Tanishq piece and the tweet which went viral in her name was, in fact, "morphed".
"Apart from obvious discrepancies such as ‘@’ and letters ‘Y’ and ‘Q’ partially cut-off, elements of the morphed tweet are not aligned in one straight line," the fact-checkers ruled.
The individuals that were earlier mocking Shefali Vaidya for 'lying' had all taken down their tweets by then.
In what can only seem like a fitting irony in the end, a Twitter user presumably in support of Vaidya threw back a similar morphed tweet ascribed this time to Stuti Mishra, where the latter can be seen 'lying' similarly about a necklate set bought from Tanishq.
This too, however, was a morphed tweet and was sent out in response to Mishra's initial allegations, apparently to show her how easy it was for fake news to spread once a believable lie is photoshopped into 280 characters.
Perhaps we should all be scared.