Sunday, July 21, 2024

Mustafizur Rahman’s fake IPL-related video got 15 millions views on TikTok

On January 2, a TikTok account named RJ Jinnat Islam uploaded a video featuring MS Dhoni, a senior cricketer from the IPL team Chennai Super Kings. The video was inaccurately captioned “Dhoni insults Mustafizur Rahman at the press conference,” with the presenter alleging, “Here Dhoni has said, ‘I made a big mistake with Mustafizur. He has been out of form recently. We didn’t realize and included him in the team. Actually, it was not right to take Mustafizur in the team.'”

Anyone familiar with cricket might realize that Dhoni would not likely make such a statement. Moreover, we have not observed Dhoni making such comments during the entire 1 minute and 7 seconds of the video. However, by the time we checked, the video had already been viewed about 733,000 times. The video originated from a YouTube channel named Desi Cricket News. The day before it was uploaded there, only about 8,000 people had watched it. But after being uploaded to TikTok, the same video received about 92 times more views.

Mustafizur Rahman is the only Bangladeshi playing for Chennai Super Kings in the 2024 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Last December, Chennai purchased Mustafizur, known as Fizz, for a base price of 2 crore rupees. He joined the Chennai camp on March 19, and the tournament began just three days later. He returned home on May 2 as he did not receive permission from the Bangladesh Cricket Board to play the entire season. There is usually ongoing discussion on social media about IPL players throughout the season, sharing photos, videos, and various information. Amid this free flow, there has been a tendency for misinformation to spread over the past few years, particularly on TikTok where the spread of fake information has alarmingly increased.
The Rumor Scanner Investigation Unit, observing Mustafizur’s IPL journey this year, identified at least 10 TikTok accounts where at least 40 videos containing false information have been viewed almost 15 million  times. These videos were sourced from multiple YouTube channels, which regularly broadcast misinformation about sports.

The Rumor Scanner Investigation Unit analyzed 40 viral videos surrounding Mustafizur’s IPL mission this year and noticed that these videos typically used old videos or recent videos of different events to make the misinformation seem credible.

The same traditional approach, relying on old videos

The Rumor Scanner Investigation Unit analyzed 40 viral videos surrounding Mustafizur’s IPL participation this year and revealed that these videos often utilized old footage or recent videos of different events to make the misinformation seem credible. In these instances, old videos of Chennai’s cricketers and comments from various times by other IPL team owners and cricketers were used. Videos of former cricketers, no longer associated with the IPL, were also presented as recent comments about Mustafizur.

However, the dissemination of false information isn’t only fueled by old videos. We found at least two instances where recent videos of Dwayne Bravo, the bowling coach of Chennai Super Kings, inaugurating a diamond outlet and Ruturaj Gaikwad, the captain of the team, commenting about a specific match were also used to spread false information. Although these videos purported to be about Mustafizur, nothing of the sort happened in reality.

Videos including old interviews of Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina have also been used by the Rumor Scanner Investigation Unit. In an interview given to Voice of America on September 27 last year, the Prime Minister expressed her expectations for the upcoming One-Day World Cup cricket. This same video was used twice, once claiming that Sheikh Hasina gave Mustafizur permission to play the entire IPL, and another time claiming she was so impressed with Mustafizur’s performance in the IPL that she announced a reward of five crore rupees along with a car and a house for him. However, no such comments by Sheikh Hasina regarding Mustafizur have been found in the media.

As of now, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has not appeared at any press conference in this year’s IPL. However, while analyzing the videos related to Mustafizur, claims were made using four (1, 2, 3, 4)  old videos of Dhoni, stating that he had spoken about Mustafizur. No news of Dhoni publicly commenting about Mustafizur has emerged in the media yet.
It’s not only old videos that are used as tools to lend credibility to these fake videos. In some cases, we have seen fake videos being promoted where one person’s face is superimposed on another’s, sometimes with the aid of artificial intelligence (AI).

This year, although Mustafizur was the man of the match in his first IPL game, he was not seen giving interviews or appearing at press conferences for that match or any subsequent matches. However, a video claiming that Mustafizur is giving interviews in the IPL was created using AI and used to spread misinformation.

A single account garnered nearly 3.7 million views

In our investigation of the 10 accounts we worked with, one account named Khalid Editx had 15 videos, each having at least one hundred thousand views. These videos have been viewed over 3.69 million times in total. Fourteen of these videos were sourced from a YouTube channel named BD Crics Pro, and one was from another YouTube channel named BD Sports News. The most viewed video, which claims that a young woman hugged Mustafizur in the gallery, has been verified and found to be footage from 2021. At that time, it was Chennai’s Deepak Chahar who had proposed to his girlfriend, and Fizz was not a member of Chennai then.

Among the 40 videos we found in our investigation, the one that went most viral on TikTok was a video of a statement by Dhoni. A video of a statement Dhoni made in 2021 about Chennai Super Kings has recently been spread on TikTok as a comment about Mustafizur, and has already been viewed over 2 million times.

Originated on YouTube but went viral on TikTok

The Rumor Scanner Investigation Unit analyzed 40 videos about Mustafizur’s recent IPL mission, and 39 of them were primarily sourced from YouTube. The source of one video could not be confirmed. These videos were collected from 11 YouTube channels and published on TikTok. Interestingly, while these videos were viewed a total of over 2.58 million times on YouTube after their first release, their viewership on TikTok increased nearly sixfold to over 15.11 million.

Out of these videos, the maximum of 21 videos were sourced from a YouTube channel named BD Crics Pro. This channel, which has about 60,500 subscribers, is less than a year old, having been created last October 19. Since then, about 1100 videos have been uploaded on this channel, 17 of which have been identified as fake and fact-checked by Rumor Scanner this year.

Incorporating numerous prominent figures

This year, Mustafizur Rahman had the opportunity to play nine matches for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL. In these videos related to spreading misinformation, his team members were involved to a significant extent, accounting for about 48 percent. Among the cricketers of Chennai, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been most frequently victimized by false information. This former Indian cricketer was used as a tool for spreading misinformation in 12 videos. Sometimes his old videos were used, and other times false information was given claiming that he had called the BCB president. Dhoni’s wife, Sakshi Singh, was also not spared from the flow of misinformation. A doctored photo claimed that she had hugged Mustafizur after winning a match. This video, combining YouTube and TikTok views, has been watched nearly 1.15 million times. Among those associated with Chennai, the team’s bowling coach Dwayne Bravo, captain Ruturaj Gaikwad, and another cricketer, Ravindra Jadeja, have each been involved in the promotion of fake videos. Additionally, fake information has been spread involving Mustafizur with three other IPL teams (Kolkata Knight Riders, Punjab Kings, Gujarat Titans). Moreover, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, BCB President Nazmul Hasan Papon, Bangladeshi cricketer Mashrafe Mortaza, and West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle have also been named in these fake videos.

Minimal action taken against the accounts

Social media platforms always claim to be vigilant in stopping the spread of misinformation. TikTok authorities have stated that they are working against fake information through their global fact-checking program. However, there are questions about how effective this role is. The level of activity to stop the flow of misinformation is very insufficient compared to the increase in the number of users on this platform in recent years. The fact that videos containing misinformation remain on this platform month after month proves this. On the other hand, YouTube, an old video-viewing platform, has become a breeding ground for rumors as it has yet to implement a fact-checking process. Previously, this platform was flooded with videos containing misinformation due to catchy thumbnails and titles, but recently, the promotion and spread of fake videos are occurring through new sports-related channels. Taking advantage of the lack of a formal fact-checking program on YouTube, misinformation is being freely propagated on this platform. It goes without saying that the promotion of these fake videos is not limited to this platform alone; these videos are finding their way to Facebook and TikTok through various means, reaching hundreds of thousands of people in a short time due to user algorithms.

RS Team
Rumor Scanner Fact-Check Team
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