The National Crime Statistics for the year 2017, which was released after a delay of over a year by the National Crime Records Bureau on Monday, saw the inclusion of fake news as a category under which crime statistics were tabulated. The police registered a total of 257 cases against those circulating fake news during the period of January 1 to December 31, 2017.
Madhya Pradesh topped the chart of cases of fake news with 138 incidences, with 151 victims. At a distant second and third place were Uttar Pradesh and Kerala. Uttar Pradesh had 32 incidences with 33 victims and Kerala with 18 incidences and 19 victims.
With regard to other south Indian states, Tamil Nadu had 16 incidences with 11 victims, Telangana had 11, Andhra had six incidences, and Karnataka had five. In the country, three juveniles were apprehended for circulating fake news, 2 of whom were over 16 and below 18.
No cases were registered in 11 states for circulating fake news. The rate of incidence of the crime, which is measured as the rate of incidence per one lakh people, was zero for almost all states, barring Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Chandigarh.
With regard to crimes registered city-wise, Lucknow topped the list with nine cases. Chennai had five, Bengaluru saw two cases, Kochi and Hyderabad had none.
These are cases registered under Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code, which pertain to â€˜statements conducing to public mischiefâ€™ and cases pertaining to Section 505 read with the Information Technology Act.
For cases which fall under the IT Act (fake news on social media), Assam saw 55 cases and Uttar Pradesh had 21. In the south, Kerala 12, Telangana had eight, Tamil Nadu and Andhra had three each.
However, while the incidence of cases reported might be lesser, it is possible that the rate of incidence is much higher, which was seen in the spate of mob lynchings due to viral messages about child-lifters and kidnappers.
According to fact-checking startup Logically, 50,000 fake news stories were published during the recent Lok Sabha polls, which was shared 2 million times.