While India begins its most massive democratic exercise with more than nine hundred million citizens registered to vote in the country’s general elections, fact-checking and debunking fake news has also begun simultaneously. Despite efforts to prevent or curb the spread, many rumours have already been circulated during this period.
Some of the recent stories that have been circulating include: Firstly, how Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the main opposition Congress party is wealthier than the Queen of England. However, this story was debunked six years ago, and the origin of the story dates back to 2012. Secondly, fake news has been spreading on how the UN's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) had named Mr Modi as the world's best prime minister. This is false information as the UNESCO does not provide such awards. Thirdly, fake news has been spreading on how prosthetic fingers are being used to allow people to vote multiple times.
Our assessment is that general elections in India has been one of the most awaited exercise, and it is evident that the proliferation of fake news would increase. We believe that though many initiatives are taken by the government together with social media companies to curb the spread, there has been only little impact.