The number of fake accounts parading as real accounts of known individuals has become a considerable problem in the age of social media. However, these accounts largely go unchecked and many fall prey to what's being said by these accounts.
K Annamalai was also drawn into such a case recently when an account that sported his name and profile picture. An account made controversial comments on NEET following Tamil actor Surya's statement on the exam. Many in the public weren't sure if the comments were those that the BJP politician supported and assumed it might be him.
On 13th September, an account by the name, Annamalai_BJP on Twitter commented on the recently conducted NEET exam. The NEET exam has become the centre of widespread debate in the country, as there were protests against it, following 4 student suicides that sparked disapproval in the state.
This issue was further embroiled in controversy when famed Tamil actor Surya made strong remarks about the exam, and about it being conducted amid the pandemic. The actor was heavily criticised for his remarks especially against the government and the court.
Annamalai_BJP the account, posted a thought on Twitter about the student suicide cases in Tamil Nadu among 12th graders saying, "12th-grade students who fail, year on year some mentally challenged students die. Why is 12th grade shrinking? It's like the #NEET entrance. Look for an opportunity for Tamil students to get a medical degree." (via Google Translate)
Following this in the replies, the same account said, "Do you know how many crores are being transferred to Surya Trust ... only 40-50% is to be spent on students..to put the rest in Pollachi Spinning mills..this is another grave..Let's see how much will come ...@IncomeTaxIndia Take care of him ..." (Translated via Google Translate).
Many believed these were the responses and the comments of K Annamalai, the IPS officer who recently joined the BJP party in Tamil Nadu.
Verifying the claim
The tweets set off many people who believed that these were the opinions of K Annamalai. Even the media fell for the ploy when they circulated the tweets from this account in articles.
What was interesting was that the account which had posted the tweets was an ID- @Annamalai_BJP but the name of the account itself was 'Annamalai Fan'. This was the first indicator of the account not being K Annamalai's account. Moreover, the comments being made were not in line with the BJP's stand on the issue.
On Tuesday, K Annamalai made the clarification on Twitter about it being a fake account, "FAKE TWEET BELOW. That account is blocked now. Anybody impersonating me from now on will invite a criminal case. In a democracy, people have right to express their opinions. Even if I don't agree with that, I respect their voice!"
Moreover, on September 14th the politician had pointed out how his views were misrepresented due to that tweet, "Request the concerned not to impersonate me & record any message in my name. Request media also to check the antecedents of any message before publishing. This is NOT FROM MY ACCOUNT."
IBTimes got in touch with K Annamalai to clarify about the fake account and what exactly happened, he stressed on the need for verification and authenticity in the age of information, "my detractors think they can create fake profiles in my name and defame me. But what they don't know is that my people and my young friends and not as impressionable as they think. They are smart. They call out the fake accounts before I do. So they can keep trying and we will focus on doing the good work."
The account in question has now been blocked since it was reported and now doesn't exist. What this means is that it's equally necessary for netizens and the media to verify claims especially coming from unreliable sources.