According to the latest National Crime Records Bureau data, there was a 214 percent increase in the circulation of “false/fake news” and rumours in 2020 as compared to previous years, .
A total of 1,527 cases of fake news was recorded in 2020 as against 486 cases in 2019 and 280 cases in 2019. For 2020, Telangana topped with 273 of these cases, followed by Tamil Nadu (188) and Uttar Pradesk (166). Among the cities, Hyderabad recorded the highest number of these cases at 208, followed by Chennai (42) and Delhi (30).
The circulation of fake news is punishable under section 505 of the Indian Penal Code, which states: “Whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement or report containing rumour or alarming news...shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.”
However, Express noted that posts on shortage of beds and oxygen during the pandemic were also labelled as "fake news" by some states.
Earlier this a year, in 138 countries noted that India produced the largest amount of social media misinformation on Covid due to the country's "higher internet penetration rate, increasing social media consumption, and users' lack of internet literacy."
in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that Whatsapp is one of the primary sources of Covid misinformation in India among internet users. According to , the NCRB data noted that there were 578 instances of "fake news on social media".