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Viral lies: Exposed


What was shown: Social media posts and news articles claiming Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo will turn his chain of hotels into hospitals to treat Coronavirus patients, are false. The false claim, which also said treatment would be available for free and that Ronaldo would pay doctors and workers for their services, was shared by verified international Twitter handles including Foot Mercato (archive), The Sportsman (archive), Footy Accumulators as well as Gulf News (archive). In India, ABP Ananda’s verified Facebook page (archive) shared the same claim. BOOM asked the Pestana CR7 Lisboa hotel about the facility being turned into a hospital for COVID-19 patients, the hotel’s front office told us “we don’t have any information about that, the hotel will continue to work as usual”.

What was shown: The Press Information Bureau’s (PIB) official fact-checking Twitter handle on Sunday rubbished a viral audio clip, which claimed that India will go into a lockdown in the next five days on account of the increasing positive cases of COVID-19 in the country. As many as 108 people have tested positive in the country so far. In the viral clip The girl quotes his father as saying, “that all the army hospitals are now in direct contact with the Ministry of Health and now they have been ordered to create quarantine facilities everywhere.” In the tweet, the PIB Fact Check said the claims about a lockdown are fake and called the clip an attempt at ‘scaremongering’

What was shown: A Times Of India report claiming that the wife of a Google employee escaped from quarantine in Bangalore and fled to Agra is false. The Times Of India report published on March 14, falsely claimed that a woman who travelled to Italy with her husband for her honeymoon, “tested positive for COVID-19” and then “fled to New Delhi and Agra” and that she resisted treatment. The report titled, ‘Infected Techie’s Wife, Who Fled B’luru Tests +ve’ was published on March 14 on the front page of all editions of the paper and had quotes from health officials in Agra, the hometown of the woman. BOOM spoke to the family members of the couple, who provided us with tickets and proof that show the woman never fled and is yet to test positive as her results are awaited. The husband who is currently in quarantine in Bangalore, tested positive for COVID-19 on March 12.

What was shown: An image of Philipe Haydon, CEO of Himalaya Drug Company is viral with false claims that he is the owner of the company and donates 10 per cent of his annual income to fund terrorism against India. Haydon has been further misidentified as Mohammed Menal, the founder of the company, in the viral posts which call for boycott of the Himalaya products. BOOM found out that the man in the viral photo is not the owner of the company, misidentified as Mohammed Menal, but Philipe Haydon, CEO and president of the Himalaya Drug Company. The photograph was taken from this news article published in Economic Times on September 20, 2016 when the company introduced its range of mothercare products. The company issued a statement on Twitter terming the viral posts ‘absolutely baseless’ and ‘untrue’. The statement reads, “The negative rumors, false statements, and photographs being circulated about The Himalaya Drug Company are absolutely baseless and untrue.”