Misleading information has been spreading in India as the authorities attempt to control the coronavirus with strict restrictions on movement throughout the country.
We’ve been looking at some of the more widely shared examples.
Positive news 1. Did a leopard break the coronavirus lockdown?
Some people thought so, judging by the number of times a social media post showing a leopard on the streets in Punjab state has been shared recently.
In the video from Jalandhar district, the animal can be seen jumping across walls and open areas and chasing people as panic spreads in the streets nearby.
Some posts are tagged #coronavirus or #Covid-19, and some say the leopard is breaking the lockdown. One post on Facebook had been viewed more than 5,500 times.
But, as some of the comments under these posts note, this video is over a year old, which you can confirm by doing a keyword search for “leopard attack in Jalandhar.”
The video of the leopard on the rampage went viral when it emerged in early 2019 and was picked up by the Indian and foreign media.
It’s got nothing to do with the current coronavirus lockdown.
Positive news 2. A model example of Indian social distancing?
With India under extended lockdown, images have appeared on social media of proper social distancing said to be from a marketplace in the north-eastern state of Mizoram.
Users have posted comments on what a good example it sets to the rest of the country, given widespread concerns about the lack of social distancing in some parts of India.
But these images are misleading because they’re not from India – they’re from neighbouring Myanmar.
A reverse image search reveals the same images were used this month by Philippines-based ABS-CBN News and other media outlets in South East Asia, saying they are from Myanmar.
The images have also been shared by some Burmese Facebook users, who say they show a market in Myanmar.
And by zooming in on some of these pictures, it’s just possible to make out a couple of shop signs and an advertising hoarding written in Burmese script.
Positive news 3. Was a peak in the Alps lit up to thank India?
This claim refers to an image of the Matterhorn, one of the highest mountains in the Alps, straddling the border between Switzerland and Italy, lit up with an image of the Indian flag.
A widely shared tweet by a senior official of the ruling party in India suggests the lightshow was in recognition of India’s leading role in combatting the coronavirus.
According to BJP National General Secretary B L Santosh this was because India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, had supplied the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine.
The drug has attracted attention as a potential treatment for Covid-19, although there are no completed clinical trials or evidence of its efficacy.
India is one of the largest manufacturers of this drug and has so far agreed to supply hydroxychloroquine to at least 55 countries, although Switzerland is not one of them.
But sending supplies of this drug to other countries is not the reason the Swiss authorities lit up the mountainside with the Indian flag.
The local tourism authority has been illuminating the Matterhorn every day since late March with the flags of many different countries hit by coronavirus “as a sign of hope to the world in difficult times”.
You can follow these daily projections here.
4. Is a Muslim man spitting linked to the virus spread?
A video showing a Muslim man spitting is doing the rounds on social media, as concerns mount about growing Islamophobia against the Muslim minority in India.
The video shows the man in a vehicle with police officers, one of whom he spits on.
The original text (in Bengali) roughly translates as: “For those who want proof, here’s a video that shows the Jamaatis from Nizamuddin spitting on policemen.”
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This refers to a large Muslim religious gathering in March by a group known as the Tablighi Jamaat, in the Nizamuddin area of the Indian capital, Delhi.
This gathering was later blamed for helping to spread the virus, with several thousand positive cases linked back to it, according to official figures.
The video of the Muslim man spitting has been shared several thousand times – but it’s misleading.
A reverse image search shows it has nothing to do with the religious gathering in Delhi.
It’s from a report in February by the Mumbai Mirror, a local newspaper in western India, about a 26-year-old man who was under arrest and got into an argument with police officers about the food he was being given.
The video was shot in Thane, a city on the outskirts of Mumbai, in the Indian state of Maharashtra, and not in Delhi.
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