A viral text message in Hindi, purportedly sent by the principal secretary of the ministry of home affairs, warning users from sharing any coronavirus-related information on social media/WhatsApp groups, is being widely shared on the messaging platforms. This comes amid a surge in Covid-19 cases in many countries around the world, raising alarm in India. The message adds that only government agencies can post about coronavirus, and anyone violating this directive would be punished, including members of the entire (social media) group members, under the IT Act.
Newschecker has already debunked this claim earlier on March 31, 2020. You can read that report here.
Newschecker first ran a keyword search to verify if the Home Ministry had indeed issued such a notification. The search did not throw up any relevant reports. We then looked up all the press releases issued by the ministry of home affairs, which, too, did not show any matching results.
We noticed that the viral announcement was attributed to one Ravi Nayak as the ministry’s principal secretary. Further inquiry across the ministry’s website revealed that the principal secretary is not Ravi Nayak, but Saket Kumar.
We ran a search for “Ravi Nayak” and found no such official by that name in the list of bureaucrats serving with the Home Ministry.
We then came across this tweet published by PIB Fact Check on March 30, 2020, during the first wave of coronavirus infections across the country, debunking the viral message, which was in English. The tweet stated that no such order has been issued by the ministry of home affairs.
The ministry of home affairs has not declared that posting anything related to coronavirus on social media is a punishable offence.
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