An elaborate piece on late actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s “last tweets” was published by India Today Group’s Aaj Tak on June 16. Rajput died by suicide on Sunday in his Bandra apartment. Aaj Tak wrote an emotionally-charged report on these “tweets” where the late actor allegedly hinted taking his own life but subsequently deleted his tweets. Aaj Tak later took down its report without clarification. Below is a scrolling video of the complete piece.
Aaj Tak had also tweeted the article from its official Twitter account. An archived link of the tweet can be viewed here.
That these tweets are fake is evident after one close look.
1. Imperfect alignment: The alignment of the profile picture with the text is not in a straight line as it should be. Moreover, the alignment is not consistent across three tweets.
2. Time and date stamp (highlighted in red): ‘AM’ is in small letters ‘am’ and ‘Jun’ begins with the small letter ‘j’. Furthermore, the tweets are not part of a thread yet carry the exact time-stamp. Below is a genuine tweet from Rajput’s account where the date and time stamp are carrying capital letters.
3. ‘View Tweet activity’ (highlighted in green) is visible when somebody makes a tweet from their own account. The tweet on the left is a genuine tweet from Rajput’s account as seen on Twitter where ‘View Tweet activity’ is absent.
Journalist Samina Shaikh wrote that Twitter has clarified that the tweets are fake and fabricated.
All the tweets from @itsSSR’s Twitter before his death are fake & fabricated – @TwitterIndia has clarified on the same, kindly don’t believe in these tweets and don’t pass it further…Let him please rest in peace! Please, I beg! 🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/w6pjNEkyFd
— Samina Shaikh (@saminaUFshaikh) June 16, 2020
Aaj Tak lifts misinformation from social media
The media organisation posted its tweet at 7:58 am on June 16. While the fake tweets are being widely shared, the earliest we found was posted at 5:31 am by Twitter user @KRITI___BHARTI.
Interestingly, while Alt News was writing this fact-check, the handle @KRITI___BHARTI has changed its username and the handle’s name to KANGANA RANAUT (@KANGNA_RANAUT_).
Since Sushant Singh Rajput’s death by suicide came to light, Aaj Tak has been at the forefront of insensitive reporting. A ticker during a show that ran late Sunday evening read, “Aise kaise ‘hit wicket’ ho gaye Sushant?” The channel visited the late actor’s grieving father in Patna. When the man did not respond to questions, Aaj Tak questioned his sister. The channel has also penned reports on the statement of Rajput’s relative. A Delhi-based lawyer has sent a legal notice to Aaj Tak for its “hit wicket” ticker. It is noteworthy that Aaj Tak runs a fact-checking desk while its English counterpart, India Today, is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).
[Update: We have removed the references to Dainik Bhaskar and India.com from our story. The error is regretted.]