Fact-checking simply means that whatever information is out there is verified or authentic. However, it is noticed that today many journalists or those associated with news channels are spreading the news that isn't fact-checked to earn a great deal of money.
One such incident that is now all over the media is the arrest of Mohammed Zubair, the co-founder of Alt news. He was arrested on June 27, by Delhi Police over a four year old tweet insulting a deity.
Who is Mohammed Zubair?
He is the co-founder of Alt news. Mohammed Zubair along with his friend, a former software engineer, Pratik Sinha, started the website to counter fake news, by exposing lies spread by media houses, politicians, celebrities, and users on social media.
Why Was Mohammed Zubair Arrested?
Mohammed Zubair was arrested on accounts for deliberately insulting a god from a particular religion. He posted the tweet in March 2018.
A Twitter user had filed the FIR against Zubair where he tagged the Delhi Police to take action against Zubair. As per the police, the tweet handle showed an image that was taken from the 1983 film Kissi Se Na Kehna and has been repainted with an improper word.
Zubair was arrested under IPC Section 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 295-A (malicious acts to hurt religious sentiments).
His co-partner, Pratik Sinha has said that Zubair has been called in for questioning regarding a case from 2020. He was booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POSCO), where he allegedly morphed a picture of a minor girl on social media. Reports suggest that he has been arrested for the tweet instead, which he posted four years ago for hurting religious feelings.
The Series of Controversies Associated With Alt News
Since Alt news' inception, the website has been accused of targeting the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP). Several fact-checkers have claimed that the website targets more Modi-led governments than other political parties.
Due to his hate speech on social media platforms, Zubair is facing multiple FIRs.
The cases leading to foreign donations
When Zubair was under 14-day judicial custody, the prosecutor revealed that Zubair has accepted various payments through Razorpay from UAE, Pakistan, Singapore, Syria, and Australia.
Being linked to this controversy, Razorpay had clarified on Twitter, "We will continue to hold the highest standard of data security, defend our customers at all times and also continue to abide by the laws and regulations of India."
The public prosecutor had opposed the bail of Zubair asking for an investigation regarding the foreign donations he has allegedly received. According to the reports, Delhi Police has also accused Alt News parent company Pravada Media of involving in foreign funding and taking money of more than Rs 2 lakhs.
Things got more controversial when Alt News accused Razorpay of sharing their donor data information with the police without their knowledge. To get out of the accusations, Alt News made statements that they have only added Indian Banks who can make donations to them and that foreign credit cards were never listed on Razorpay's back-end. Thus, claiming that it is not possible for them to receive money from overseas and that these allegations are untrue.
Tweets from other countries in support of Zubair
Furthermore to these accusations, an analysis report was shared stating that Alt News has received various transactions that show IP addresses coming from outside India. The cities and countries were Bangkok, Singapore, New York, Abu Dhabi, England, and New Jersey among several others. Additionally, the parent company Pravada Media has received a total of Rs 2,31,933.
Other reports are claiming that the Police have summoned new cases against Zubair such as Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 201 (destruction of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code and section 35 of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.
This comes after it was discovered in a social media analysis of Zubair's Twitter handle that there were multiple tweets from nations such as the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Pakistan, and other Middle Eastern countries in favour of Zubair opposing his recent arrest.
At the beginning of 2022, Alt news created a Twitter page called 'Unhate', to demonstrate documents on hate speeches and other related stories.
Though Alt news has been constantly calling out other news channels for spreading misinformation and false facts, it is quite evident that there many pieces of evidence which speak against the news website.
The fact-checking channel team is very supportive of Zubair and is declaring that his arrest of him is an attack on the kind of work he does.
Pratik Sinha has recently shared in an interview, that how their team is always showing verified facts, and people from the ruling parties are creating fake news to create a false narrative against their channel.
The changing nature of journalism in India has been quite the trend these days. Giving out information is the duty of not just the journalists but as viewers and readers, we also must support what type of journalism should be encouraged. In India, controversies are always linked with journalists, whether for questioning what is right or getting trapped for spreading misinformation.
The incident of Zubair's arrest has left many in the dark about the misuse of social media, where anything is not entirely true. Several opposition leaders are condemning the arrest of Zubair and blaming the Modi government. All of these cases are hard to justify who is right while keeping in view the shreds of evidence against Zubair.
Why was Mohammed Zubair arrested?
Mohammed Zubair was arrested related to a tweet he had posted in 2018.
Who is Mohammed Zubair?
Mohammed Zubair is the co-founder of fact-checking website Alt News.