27 February, 2021

The Tweet That Wasn’t

The Naveen Patnaik government in Odisha was left with egg on its face after falling for fake news

The Tweet That Wasn’t

The Odisha chief minister’s office (CMO) tweeted last week about an Oxford University study that found the ‘Ganjam model’ of Covid management praiseworthy and worthy of emulation. The CMO complimented ‘Team Ganjam’ for what it had done to halt the contagion and attributed the ‘success’ to ‘empowering panchayats, forming committees in villages for intensive screening and by providing proper healthcare’. By next day, the CMO took down the tweet. It fell for fake news.

The CMO’s tweet was based on a story that appeared in a little-known website, pledgetimes.com, which mentioned the Oxford study but failed to quote from it or anyone associated. When pressed, an officer shared the link to an Oxford study. But he had not taken the trouble of reading what it contained—and more importantly what it did not. Forget praising the ‘Ganjam model’, it did not even mention Ganjam or, for that matter, Odisha. The study was carried out in 310 cities worldwide of which five were from India and none of them was from...

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