Last week, media company Shbang has apologized for spreading fake news about the death of actress and model Poonam Pandey, after facing criticism for adopting controversial methods to raise awareness about cervical cancer.

In a statement shared on Instagram, the Mumbai-based company accepted being part of the false news and acknowledged the criticism from prominent figures and users on social media. While asking for forgiveness from those affected by cancer, Shbang claimed that their campaign has yielded positive results in spreading awareness about the disease.

Shbang stated, “We were associated with Poonam Pandey’s initiative to raise awareness about cervical cancer through the HowToFly. To initiate it in a unique way, we would like to sincerely apologize – especially to those who have faced the challenges of any type of cancer in their loved ones.”

The company, with offices in New Delhi, Bengaluru, and London, defended its actions, asserting that the sole purpose of being a part of the fake news about Pandey’s death was to “spread awareness about cervical cancer.”

Shbang mentioned, “Many of you may be unaware, but Poonam’s mother has bravely fought cancer. After going through the challenges of fighting against such a disease in a close relative, she understands the importance and seriousness of prevention and awareness, especially when there is a vaccine available.”

The apology came after the spread of false news about Pandey’s death on social media shortly after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the government’s plan to focus on cervical cancer vaccination for girls aged 9 to 14 in the interim budget for 2024.

In the statement, the media company claimed that Sitharaman’s mention of cervical cancer during the budget session did not bring any change in people’s curiosity about the disease. Shbang also asserted that as a result of Pandey’s method, the topic became the most searched on the search engine related to cervical cancer.

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