Social media inundated by fake Bollywood gossip

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Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan leaves after attending the wedding ceremony of Isha Ambani, the daughter of the Chairman of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani, in Mumbai, India, December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

NEW YORK – The fake news and gossip industry on social media platforms, especially WhatsApp, went into overdrive after news broke of thespian Amitabh Bachchan testing positive for COVID-19.

From conspiracy theories to an old video being morphed, and gossip mills churning out images of other popular Bollywood actors being infected as well, the focus of the nation shifted suddenly from the India-China border conflict, cities ravaged by the coronavirus, and the economy in shambles.

A video of Amitabh Bachchan thanking healthcare staff at Nanavati hospital, where he’s admitted, was soon refuted by hospital authorities as an old one from April of this year.

In the video, Bachchan is heard saying, in part: “Namaskar, this is Amitabh Bachchan. I am wanting to talk to all the doctors, nurses, and the staff at Nanavati hospital, for the tremendous work you’re doing in these very trying circumstances. I recently came across a post on Twitter, which showed a billboard from Gujarat, Surat. The billboard read – ‘Do you know why the temples are closed? Because god is wearing a white coat and working in hospitals.’ They are trying times. Everyone is being worked to their absolute limits. There’s always fear, there is perhaps depression, but please, do not despair. Do not panic. We’re all together in this. We are all working together…”

Nanavati Hospital released a statement clarifying the video was shot in April. In a statement, they said: “Our attention has been drawn to a video which is in circulation on the social media where Shri Amitabh Bachchanji acknowledges the efforts of healthcare workers. The aforesaid message was created in April 2020 to motivate the frontline nurses, doctors and staff working in COVID wards. In April 2020, Shri. Amitabh Bachchanji had kindly donated some resources when Nanavati Hospital had created a separate dedicated COVID facility comprising of 150 beds located in a distinct block. He had kindly sent encouraging message to all the team members at Nanavati Hospital at that time. Since then, we continue to be an integral part of Mumbai’s efforts in fighting this battle having treated over 1400 covid patients.”

Rumors also spread about Neetu Kapoor, son Ranbir Kapoor and filmmaker Karan Johar testing positive for COVID-19, reported IndiaTVNews.com. Riddhima Kapoor Sahni took to Instagram to squash the rumors, with a tweet: “Attention seeking ??? Least verify/ clarify ! We are fit We are good ! Stop spreading rumours ! #lunatics”

The portal also reported actress Esha Deol refuting rumors surrounding the health of her mother and actress Hema Malini, saying she is “fit and fine.” She tweeted: “My mother @dreamgirlhema is fit & fine. The news regarding her health is absolutely fake so please don’t react to such rumours! Thanks to everyone for their love & concern”.

There were also rumors of the veteran actress Rekha suffering from ailments.

One thing was confirmed, though. Actor Anupam Kher tweeted to share that his mother Dulari, brother Raju, sister-in-law Rima and niece Vrinda tested positive for coronavirus.

”This is to inform all that my mother Dulari is found Covid + (Mildly). We have admitted her into Kokilaben Hospital. My brother, bhabhi & niece inspite of being careful have also tested mildly positive. I got myself tested as well & I have tested negative. BMC is informed.”

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