New Delhi: With the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan Sunday, a fake news report has been circulating on social media that claims the US broadcaster, CNN, praised the members of the insurgent group for “responsibly” wearing masks to protect themselves and others from Covid-19.
The report, by the news satire website The Babylon Bee, was accompanied by an edited screengrab from a CNN broadcast.
In India, the screengrab gained traction among some filmmakers; it was also shared by some politicians and authors abroad. Indian film director Vivek Agnihotri was among the many who circulated the report on Twitter.
“CNN praises Taliban for wearing masks during butchering of innocent people,” he tweeted Monday, to his half a million followers.
— Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri (@vivekagnihotri) August 16, 2021
Agnihotri’s post was shared 1,170 times and liked over 4,000 times.
Filmmaker Ashoke Pandit also shared the report, criticising the United Nations Human Rights Office and international NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) for their “criminal silence”.
..@CNN calls Taliban terrorists as fighters and praises them for wearing masks while killing innocent people in Afghanistan . @UNHumanRights @hrw as usual have maintained a criminal silence . pic.twitter.com/Rogym9E6jQ
— Ashoke Pandit (@ashokepandit) August 16, 2021
Meanwhile, on Facebook, a user named Kiran S shared the article and wrote: “Even if the bomb explodes in the song, but did not let the corona spread.. wow..!!”
The Babylon Bee, which published the fake report Saturday, calls itself a satire site that is “totally inerrant in all its truth claims”. The group’s Twitter bio reads: “Fake news you can trust”.
Founded by American entrepreneur Adam Ford in March 2016, The Babylon Bee began as a comic news site for churchgoing conservatives but has gradually built a fan base among Republican lawmakers. Seth Dillon is its CEO.
Some recent headlines from the website include ‘Despite Susan Saying ‘God Bless You’ Every Time Someone Sneezes, Coworkers Still Haven’t Asked About Her Faith’ and ‘Scientists Rename Climate Change ‘COVID’ So Americans Will Immediately Give Up All Their Rights To Fight It’.
In the recent report about CNN and the Taliban, the second paragraph reads: “Woah, that’s a bummer,” said the Biden Administration’s foreign policy team. “We didn’t see that one coming.”
This is untrue. The latest communication from the US Department of State is a joint statement with the Department of Defense about securing the Kabul airport amid panic in the country.
In collaboration with SM Hoaxslayer
(Edited by Paramita Ghosh)