How do fake news sites like Postcard News flourish? Who provides a helping hand?

Fake news sites do not exist in a vacuum. They need an ecosystem around them that encourages and actively promotes them. Postcard News is one such site that has been in the forefront in spreading fake news. The website has been caught spreading fake videos to create communal discord. An Alt News article titled “Postcard news: Mass producing fake news” shared a partial list of nine such fake stories. One would think that after being called out repeatedly for unverified posts, people would exercise caution before they share stories from the portal. On the contrary we see that Postcard News articles are widely shared in the right-wing circles by many including BJP supporters, spokespersons and ministers. Let us look at some instances…

Fake News shared by BJP leaders and supporters

BJP leaders and supporters have repeatedly shared fake news published by Postcard news. In many instances these posts are not deleted even after they are called out as fake.

Case 1:

70 lakh Indian Army cannot defeat Azadi gang in Kashmir: Arundhati Roy’s statement to Pakistani newspaper!70 lakh Indian army cannot defeat Azadi gang in Kashmir: Arundhati Roy’s statement to Pakistani newspaper” claimed the headline of Postcard News even though Roy had made no such statement. This was a classic example of how a false story spread by such sites made it to national television before being debunked as fake. The fake news led to vicious attacks on Roy led by BJP MP Paresh Rawal.

The fake story has is still available on Postcard News website.It was shared by many BJP supporters including Priti Gandhi, National Executive member, BJP Mahila Morcha.

Case 2:

Fake news about a Gujarati businessman surrendering 6000 crores after demonetisation was shared by Vivek Agnihotri, with a comment “It is working”. The news was deleted by Postcard news after it was debunked and was a target of widespread ridicule.

Case 3:

Fake news about shameful ranking of Indian media by World Economic Forum was shared by many including Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home Affairs

In what seems to be a case of confirmation bias, even spokesperson of AAP, Ashutosh and Pallavi Ghosh of CNN News18, fell for this fake news.

Case 4:

The recent fake news about unpaid electricity bills of Jama Masjid that was debunked by Alt news was shared by Sanjay Dixit, an IAS officer who is a staunch supporter of BJP.

Twitter users have noticed that Dixit regularly shares stories from this website often deleting a day later.

Stories regularly shared by BJP leaders

Postcard News articles are regularly shared by BJP leaders. On several occasions even ministers have shared these articles.

Shripad Naik, Union Minister of state for AYUSH shared an article titled “Sadguru shuts up journalists like never before for making stupid comment on Yoga.” The article talks of a “moron journalist” from Kerala who was “dumbstruck and looked like an idiot in front of Sadhguru”.

The minister has shared several other articles as well. (1 & 2)

Others who have shared Postcard news articles include Piyush Goyal, Prakash Javadekar, Rajeev Chandrashekhar

Om Prakash Mathur, Rajya Sabha MP and National Vice President of BJP, H Raja, National Secretary of BJP and Tajinder Bagga, Spokesperson for BJP Delhi have all shared Postcard News

Stories shared by Official government handles

An article that claimed to be a “A mindblowing analysis” on ancient India was shared by the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME)

Grameen Vidyutikaran, an official Government of India handle hanlding rural electrification also shared an article from the website.

Support for Postcard news goes beyond BJP leaders sharing its stories. Mahesh Hegde, who is one of the founders of Postcard news is followed by PM Modi on Twitter. Vivek Shetty and Ankita Rajvardhan, the other two founders are followed by other Union Ministers such as Piyush Goyal on Twitter. With such a strong support system, it is not surprising therefore that fake news continues to flourish on social media.

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