The Publishers Guild, which has asked the Supreme Court to investigate the Tek Fog app, keeps mum on Swarajya’s questions on ‘The Wire’ pulling down this report

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A request for comment by swarajya made to the Editors Guild of India (EGI) and its President Seema Mustafa on Thread on which the Guild had requested the intervention of the Supreme Court, remained unanswered.

In January, news and commentary portal strongly on the left Thread published a report claiming that the Bharatiya Janata Party was using an app named “Tek Fog” to manipulate social media trends and send automated abuse to certain journalists and commentators.

The portal claimed that its report was based on an anonymous “source” and a Twitter user named “Aarthi Sharma” (incidentally, the handle was created in August 2020). ‘Aarthi Sharma’ declared herself an ‘IT cell employee’ of the BJP and was told to use the app which allegedly bypassed reCAPTCHA codes and automatically downloaded text and hashtags.

Thread said the app was run by BJP leader Devang Dave, who denied all allegations in an email to the portal.

Dave’s response in January can be read in his tweets here.

After the recent embarrassment over its Meta-Amit Malviya link stories, which were branded as fake news, the portal quietly hid its Tek Fog report from public view last week and removed its Meta stories. At the time of publishing this report, Thread had apologized for the Meta reports but not for the Tek Fog report.

In his “apologies”, Thread claimed he had been “subjected” to deception by a member of his Meta investigation team. This morning, the statement was accompanied by a footnote stating that “the person responsible no longer works with The Wire in any capacity”.

When Tek Fog’s story was published in January, it drew strong reactions from the left-liberal section of the media, anti-BJP commentators and opposition leaders. They ignored valid criticisms and loopholes in stories to target the government.

In this context, the EGI quickly issued a statement on January 11 asking for the intervention of the Supreme Court.

“The latest cases of this type of organized trolling and harassment [of women journalists ‘outspokenly critical of the current government’] are revealed by investigations by The Wire, which has exposed an extensive and well-funded network built around an app, Tek Fog, which steals unused Whatsapp accounts to send toxic messages to targeted journalists. The purpose of these deeply hurtful messages was to instill fear in them and prevent them from speaking freely and going about their business,” reads the statement, which can be read in full in a tweet.

This statement is not present on the Guild’s website.

Swarajya’s request went unanswered

swarajya contacted EGI President Seema Mustafa on Wednesday via email and text message. swarajya also sent questions to the EGI.

Although Mustafa responded by email and text, promising that she would send her comments, there was no further response from her until the time of this report’s publication – at least 24 hours later. sending the communication. Other text messages and phone calls went unanswered. swarajya will update this report if a response is received.

The EGI, which itself as a non-profit organization founded in 1978 with the “dual purpose of protecting freedom of the press and raising the standards of editorial leadership in newspapers and magazines”, has often been criticized for being heavily biased in favor of the left. leaning media.

Its website indicates that the current president is Seema Mustafa, who is also the editor of the portal. The citizen; the general secretary is Sanjay Kapoor, also editor of the portal hard news; and the treasurer is Anant Nath, also editor-in-chief of Caravan.

swarajya contacted Kapoor for comment, but he replied that he no longer held that position.

EGI past chairpersons include Shekhar Gupta, who is editor of the portal The footprint and Rajdeep Sardesai, consultant editor for TV Today Network.

In November 2020, Arnab Goswami resigned from the EGI on live television, for “his absolute compromise with his editorial ethics”, while criticizing then President Shekhar Gupta for his “silence” on the case of the lynching of Palghar Sadhus and for “leading the compromise on Indian journalism”.

The same month, journalist Patricia Mukim, editor-in-chief of Shillong timeresigned from the EGI accusing it of only defending “celebrity” news editors and presenters.

In August 2020, the news channel Suvarna News challenged the EGI for its journalists being assaulted by “municipal police” in Bangalore during a report.

The channel’s editor, Ravi Hegde, released a statement clarifying that the attack came from “the rioting crowd and not the Bangalore City Police as stated in the statement issued by the Editors Guild of India …”

The admission of false news by Thread

The portal’s lengthy apology note published today on its Meta reports, says: “Thread acknowledges that the internal editorial processes that preceded the publication of these articles did not meet the standards that Thread fixed for itself and what its readers expect of it. To rush to publish a story that we believe to be reliable without the associated technical evidence being independently verified is a failure that we cannot allow to be repeated.

The portal’s last week states, “Given the discrepancies that have been brought to our attention via our review thus far, The Wire will also conduct a thorough review of previous reports by the technical team involved in our Meta coverage. “

The portal’s memo on its quiet denial of public access to Tek Fog reports reads: “Update (October 23, 2022): This story has been removed from public view pending the outcome of an internal review by The Wire, as one of its authors was part of the technical team involved in our now retracted Meta coverage.

Update: A day after Swarajya’s report, EGI’s verified Twitter account posted that they had removed references to Threadit is report Tek Fog in their January statement.

The account published today, “EGI removes references to Wire story in January 2022 statement about online harassment of female journalists. Urges newsrooms to resist temptation to act quickly on issues sensitive, circumventing current journalistic standards.

The accompanying press release reads: “The Editors Guild of India issued a statement on January 11, 2022 expressing deep concern over online harassment and targeting of female journalists. Among other examples, the statement also referenced a series of reports by the Wire about an app called Tek Fog. Since the Wire removed these stories as part of their internal review following serious questions about the veracity of their reporting, the Guild is removing references to all of these reports.

Read the EGI post here.


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