Even as counting for the Karnataka elections was on and early trends showed that Congress was leading in over 120 seats, many social media users started sharing a screenshot of a purported Instagram story by Indian cricketer Virat Kohli. In this said story, one can see a photo of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and some words of praise for him.
Sada Afreen, a Twitter user who claims to be a journalist, shared the screenshot and wrote in Hindi, “Have something to say on Virat Kohli’s Instagram status?” (Archive)
कुछ कहना है विराट कोहली के इंस्टाग्राम स्टेटस पर?#KarnatakaElectionResults pic.twitter.com/ryTc18dAUq
— Sadaf Afreen صدف (@s_afreen7) May 13, 2023
A parody account that goes by the display name ‘Dr Nimo Yadav’ shared the screenshot as well, and wrote, “Virat Kohli is on 🔥, hope he doesn’t delete it “. (Archive)
Virat Kohli is on 🔥, hope he doesn’t delete it
— Dr Nimo Yadav (@niiravmodi) May 13, 2023
Another Twitter user called Dr Gill shared a similar screenshot. (Archive)
Virat Kohli’s insta story today pic.twitter.com/vMwoNGdYkT
— Dr Gill (@ikpsgill1) May 13, 2023
We first started by checking the Instagram account of Virat Kohli. We noticed that the username and the profile picture matched the viral screenshots. However, in the past 24 hours, Virat has only posted two Instagram stories.
It is very much possible for an Instagram user to post and then delete a story, but the viral screenshots appear to be manipulated. In the first viral screenshot, we noticed two things:
- Virat has 248 million Instagram followers. However, only one screenshot taken 17 minutes after the story being posted is viral on social media.
- The letter “L” (in lower case) in the username has a specific font style that can be seen on all the screenshots shared and the verification checkmark appears to be not aligned properly.
Below, we have compared the username and the verification mark on the viral screenshot and an actual screenshot taken by us.
In the case of the second viral screenshot, though the username and the verification checkmark appear aligned, it seems that the photo of Rahul Gandhi has been superimposed on something else. When one takes a closer look at it, one can see that Rahul Gandhi’s photo has been placed on a photo of Indian cricketer Suryakumar Yadav, which can be still seen on Kohli’s Instagram story. A part of Kumar’s blue jersey is still visible below the Congress leader’s photo.
To sum it up, it is clear that two manipulated screenshots of Virat Kohli’s Instagram stories are being shared on social media to claim that the cricketer had praised Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on the likely victory in Karnataka assembly elections.
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