While the row between Twitter and US President Donald Trump rages on after the social media giant decided to fact-check the President’s irresponsible tweets, may I call for attention an irresponsible Twitter influencer closer home whose tweets need some serious flagging?
People are so annoyed with megastar Amitabh Bachchan frequently posting unverified news on the social media platform that a petition was started on change.org asking the actor to delete WhatsApp. The messaging app is another social media platform that has become a source of unverified information. Albeit a joke, Bachchan should take note of the amount of damage he is potentially causing, given the fan following he has.
While Bachchan is one of the most engaging and active Bollywood celebrities on Twitter, one can safely say he’s not very different from those uncles in family WhatsApp groups–the compulsive text ‘forwarders’ who shrug off all responsibility from what they choose to share.
However, the big difference between our family Tauji and Big B is that while the former may not have any influence outside the family, the latter has over 42 million followers just on Twitter.
Superspreader of fake news
The veteran actor was criticised for posting a stupid WhatsApp forward that explained how Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to Indians to cling thalis on ‘amavasya‘ was a masterstroke to fight the coronavirus. By the time AB senior deleted the tweet–without any clarification–it had already garnered 254 retweets and 2,300 likes.
The WhatsApp forward had claimed that the vibrations generated at that particular hour would prove lethal for the virus and decrease its potency. The timing was lauded owing to the fact that the moon was apparently entering some nakshatra.
Such posts surely establish him as the superstitious patriarch of Bollywood in a way showing his transformation from an angry young man to an irrational old man.
It’s disappointing to see him use this platform to promote superstitious and ill-informed posts instead of using his influence to encourage scientific thought, doing which is more important than ever now.
Such posts are not isolated. Throughout the pandemic, Bachchan has been a ‘superspreader’ of fake news. He has said Covid-19 is spread by flies–a claim which was debunked by the health ministry. He promoted a fake website as a coronavirus dashboard. Then he shared a fake picture that showed India’s geography as a bright spot on the globe on the night Indians switched off the lights and lit candles after PM Modi’s call.
T 3481 – Finally India got its Carona Dashboard
This is the official website for CORONA updates. Updating every 4 hrs..
open it .. see .. scroll down for more details .. place finger on your State and get the numbers info ..https://t.co/uNyPkG2luF pic.twitter.com/akg3Kj5Sbt
— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) March 25, 2020
Bachchan did apologise. But, before you start to bring back the respect in your heart for the superstar, here is the truth of his apology. He offered a correction to a previous tweet for wrongly ‘numbering’ his tweets.
T 3538 – CORRECTION .. please read the last 2 Twitter numbers as 3537 and 3538 .. NOT 3637 and 3638
— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) May 22, 2020
This is the tweet he chose to provide clarification on while he’s been on a fake news spree.
The words of the KBC host have come to mean nothing. Amitabh Bachchan seems to be incomplete without the help of his ‘computer ji‘. Probably the actor should ask ‘taala laga diya jaaye?’, read what he’s posting and fact-check it before tweeting anything out.
On 30 May, the actor claimed that the lockdown has taught him a lot, but fact-checking, it seems, wasn’t in the syllabus. I cannot wait for Twitter to step up its game and fact-check Bachchan like it’s been fact-checking Trump.
T 3547 – इस Lockdown के काल में जितना मैंने सीखा, समझा, और जाना , उतना मैं अपने 78 वर्षों के जीवन काल में न सीख सका, न समझ सका और न ही जान सका !
इस सच्चाई को व्यक्त करना , इसी सीख, समझ और जानने का परिणाम है ! 🙏 pic.twitter.com/ofacrb7PiK
— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) May 30, 2020