Abrar Ifaz

Research Officer, Dismislab
A fake quote spread across 30 pages & groups within 30 Minutes
This article is more than 4 months old

A fake quote spread across 30 pages & groups within 30 Minutes

Abrar Ifaz

Research Officer, Dismislab

A graphic card containing a statement attributed to Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, Senior Joint Secretary General of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), has been circulating on various Facebook pages and groups. The statement quotes Rizvi discussing the party’s acting chairman, Tarique Rahman, particularly in relation to independent candidates and the handling of nomination trading. However, after verification by Dismislab, it has been confirmed that Ruhul Kabir Rizvi did not issue this statement.

The statement in question is fictitious and has been posted on at least 19 Facebook pages. Notably, six of these pages have been previously flagged by multiple fact-checking organizations for disseminating false information. Interestingly, the same graphic card was posted on 12 different Facebook pages and 18 groups within 30 minutes.

On December 9, between 6 p.m. and 1:30 a.m., a total of 19 individual pages posted the card. It featured a quote attributed to Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, stating, “BNP defectors have become independent candidates to derail Tarique Zia’s nomination business.” Notably, on eighteen out of the nineteen pages, the text caption, hashtag, and star symbol accompanying the card were all identical.

Dismislab’s verification has revealed that Ruhul Kabir Rizvi did not make any such assertion as quoted in the graphic card. An online search yielded no evidence of such a statement from Rizvi. Additionally, the image of Rizvi on the graphic card was captured during a live video stream posted on November 30 on BNP’s official YouTube channel, where no such statement was made. When approached for clarification, Shayrul Kabir Khan, a member of the BNP media cell, categorically stated, “The statement is fabricated. Social media is being used to spread false statements made by evil circles to confuse people.”

The graphic card featuring the fake quote was posted on a total of twelve pages between 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. It was shared in eighteen Facebook groups at the same time frame. This graphic card featured a logo of a Facebook page, named “Hash Tag BNP“. However, the card was posted at 6:30 p.m. on the “Hash Tag BNP” page, while thirty minutes prior, it had been posted on another page named “BNP News.” Additionally, another graphic card with a different design but the same fictitious quote was posted across four pages between 8:00 p.m. and 8:10 p.m.

Among the twelve pages where the fictitious quote was posted between 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on December 9, at least five of them—namely, Khaleda Ziar Anushari, Khaleda Ziar Sainik, Major Zia Amar Hok, Tarique Rahman Update, and Tarique Zia Cyber Force—appear to be pro-BNP pages. However, upon analyzing the content posted on these pages, it becomes evident that they consistently share satirical posts about the BNP or individuals associated with the party. 

The page Hash Tag BNP, whose logo has been utilized on the fake graphic card, introduced itself as BNP’s brand ambassador. Additionally, the page includes a website URL: bnpnews.net. However, upon inspection, all twelve news stories across the three categories on the site’s homepage feature anti-BNP narratives. 

Among the nineteen pages that posted the graphic card containing the fabricated statement attributed to Rizvi, at least six of them had previously shared inaccurate or misleading content. Specifically, BNP-nama (1, 2) and Bangla Politix (1, 2) were identified in at least two fact-check reports. Verification reports were also published regarding false information posted on the Hash Tag BNP, Khaleda Ziar Anushari, Khaleda Ziar Sainik, and BNP News Update pages. 

The dissemination of false statements attributed to Ruhul Kabir Rizvi is not a recent phenomenon. Fact-check reports have been previously published, addressing false information spread through phony accounts created in his name. Over the past two years, at least four instances of fabricated or misrepresented statements about him have been fact-checked by three different organizations. For example, in August of this year, a fact-check report by Rumor Scanner revealed that certain portions of Rizvi’s speech had been misquoted on Facebook.

Similarly, in September 2022, Rumor Scanner published a fact-check article concerning comparable distortions. Furthermore, fact-check reports on false information attributed to Rizvi were verified by BOOM Bangladesh and Rumor Scanner in May 2022 and February of the current year. Additionally, in January 2022, a report by Fact-Watch discovered that false statement like “the government created the coronavirus to prevent a BNP rally” were being disseminated under Rizvi’s name.