New Delhi: Fact-checker and journalist Mohammed Zubair is the recipient of the 2024 Kottai Ameer Communal Harmony Award given by the Tamil Nadu government.
The citation notes that Zubair has been “rendering various services to promote communal harmony.”
It observes that in creating the website Alt News – which he co-founded with Pratik Sinha – Zubair has set up an instrument to analyse the “veracity of the news coming out on social media,” giving primacy to real news.
The government noted that his “work helps prevent the occurrence of violence in society likely to be caused by fake news.”
The citation especially says that in March 2023, when there was a rapid spread on social media of the disinformation that migrant workers were being attacked in Tamil Nadu, Alt News‘s verification of the authenticity of the video was instrumental in proving that the footage was not from Tamil Nadu at all.
It “stopped the spread of rumours against Tamil Nadu and acted to prevent violence caused by caste, religion, race and language in Tamil Nadu,” the government said.
In 2022, Zubair was arrested by the Delhi police for a 2018 tweet in which he shared a screenshot from a 1983 Hindi movie. Six cases were slapped on him during the period of his incarceration until the Supreme Court gave him bail.
Zubair is often attacked online by Hindutva commentators for fact-checking viral claims and disinformation.