These lions aren’t freed by the Russian President Vladimir Putin, but are drawn in the minds of #Covidiots on different social media applications, like WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook.
A #Facebook page “Humour TV” posted a picture of a lion on an empty street with the caption, “Vladmir Putin has dropped 800 tigers and lions all over the country to push people to stay home” during this #pandemic.
When India Today Anti Fake News War Room (#AFWA) jumped onto it to check its validity on March 24, the post by then was already shared more than 18,000 times.
It is still viral on other platforms like #Twitter and #WhatsApp.
Encouraged by the post, many Indians too commented that this should be the approach of a leader.
A twitter handler ‘@Mavunya_’ tweeted the image of the lion on March 22 saying, “Russian president Vladimir Putin released 800 lions and tigers across Russia to devour anyone who comes out. Stay home or die hard.”
Such messages have increased the fear and anxiety of the people. Some of the comments on the post include, “Soooo what happens when the quarantine is over” and “What the??? Oh my god.”
A picture on WhatsApp with TV ‘Breaking News’ graphic plate imposed on it saying “Russia unleashed more than 500 lions on its streets to ensure that people are staying indoors during this pandemic outbreak” has added to the virality of this message all over the world.
In the Google reverse image search conducted by #AFWA, it found two reports of Daily Mail and New York Post in 2016 that relates it to the filming of the lion called ‘Columbus’ in Johannesburg that despite the disapproval for filming was brought into the streets by the film company.
Even, the Johannesburg Roads Agency later confirmed in a UK news and photo agency called ‘Caters News’ four years ago that ‘Columbus’ was part of the film shooting; but the production crews failed to notify proper authorities for the lion’s presence.
Moreover, the #AFWA found that the graphic plate did not belong to any news channel. It was created by using a website where one can develop one’s own “breaking news”.
Russia has taken numerous measures, such as limiting flights, closing borders, vetoing Chinese and Iranian citizens, and quarantines; but not frees lions on the streets to force people stay indoors.
#CheckTheFake on #COVID19
FAKE: Lions released on Russian streets by Vladimir Putin to force people inside their homes during #COVID19.
FACT: The post and the picture is about four years old directing to various news reports on April 15, 2016 from Johannesburg in South Africa. This has nothing to do with Russia and Vladimir Putin or novel #coronavirus. The incident is connected to a film shooting on the streets of Johannesburg.
#CheckTheFake is a movement against #Infodemic in this crisis, initiated by Dr Anamika Ray Memorial Trust #ARMT (www.armt.in) in collaboration with The Assam Tribune and Northeast Now (www.nenow.in) to create awareness on #fakenews on #Coronavirus and improve media literacy through #Cartoons. ARMT Research