Rahul Namboori, co-founder of Fact Crescendo, pointed to some highly charged events that kept fact-checkers busy in 2020.
He said the year started with protests against the government’s decision to amend the Citizenship Act and create a national register of citizens, followed by the Delhi riots, Covid-19 pandemic, Chinaâs intrusion into Indian territory, a Bollywood starâs suicide and finally with farmer protests against the new agriculture laws.
âWhen we speak of India, in terms of misinformation, this was the most volatile and chaotic year. I would take some time speaking about India because a lot happened,â he said at a press briefing by Facebook.
Fact Crescendo is among eight fact-checkers that Facebook has engaged in India, making it the country with the second most number of third-party fact checkers globally after the United States.
The other partners are India Today Group, Vishvas News (Jagran), Factly, Newsmobile, BOOM Live, AFP and Quint who fact-check in 11 Indian languages and English.
Namboori also spoke of Covid-19 specific misinformation that took over Indian social media last year.
They could broadly be categorised into five themes: understanding of the virus, home remedies to cure it, lockdown rules, conspiracy theories of its origins and finally communal spin to its spread in India, he said.
âThere was a communal spin to the disease. In India, Covid-19 found a religion because one community was called a super spreader of the disease. There were a lot of communal claims that surfaced on social media,â he said, referring to a Tablighi Jamaat gathering in Delhi, which was termed by many as a super-spreader event.
Between March and October, 12 million pieces of Covid-19 misinformation content were removed from the platform globally, he said.
During the briefing, Alice Budisatrijo from Facebookâs Product Policy team shared a three-point strategy to address misinformation – reduce, remove and inform.