The influential micro-blogging platform Twitter, used by over 13 million Indians, is a dynamic place where heroes and icons are made and unmade every day. One Tweeple's hero is today another netizen's fake news proliferator tomorrow. And something similar seems to be happening to two of the most popular faces on Twitter India, namely, Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan and industrialist Anand Mahindra.
While one is a superstar who captivated generations with his acting, personality and stardom, the other is the Chairman of the Mahindra Group, known for his fair work ethic and generosity toward a variety of social and societal causes.
But recently, both of them have come under fire for tweeting about unverified stories as "facts". The duo have, on multiple occasions, peddled fake news. Both seem to be vocal believers of WhatsApp University and are in the habit of sharing whatever comes their way via the app without making the effort to verify the same.
Recently, one of Mahindra's tweets that peddled fake news regarding leaf-made face masks, caused so much outrage that Netizens are now mobilising online against both Mahindra and Bachchan. An online petition has been doing the rounds on change.org, asking Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to ban Bachchan and Mahindra from using Whatsapp.
Created by popular parody account holder who goes by the handle of 'Rofl Gandhi', the petition is apparently intended to " restore the dignity of these two gentlemen" after they were repeatedly found falling prey to fake news "fed to them on WhatsApp".
The petition, which already has over 1300 signatories, came after Mahindra shared an image of a woman and child wearing face masks made of leaves amid the coronavirus pandemic. Claiming he found the information on his "WhatsApp Wonderbox", Mahindra went on to point out the marvellous resources available in nature that can help fight coronavirus.
His tweet was instantly trolled, with many including comedian Aditi Mittal pointing out that the fact that the mother and child had no real masks was a failure of the government and system, not a win for nature. Additionally, there is no information that a leaf mask has the ability to protect the wearer from the virus.
Bachchan has also been trolled on numerous occasions and asked to "uninstall WhatsApp" after he shared unverified our even downright weird tweets. The latest came on April 6 after Indians responded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call and lit candles and diyas for 9 minutes at 9 PM to fight coronavirus.
Bachchan tweeted a fake image of India as seen from outer space, lit up with diyas. "When the world was wavering! Hindustan was shining! Today's picture is telling this," the picture was tweeted alongside this post. Bachchan quote retweeted the photo by writing, "The World sees us.. we are ONE.."
The image was, of course, fake.