MARC OWEN JONES ;;The cliche goes that the first casualty of war is truth.With Israel’s occupation of Palestine, disinformation often comes with a side of anti-Palestinianism and Islamophobia, turbocharged by social media amplification, especially under Elon Musk’s leadership of X, formerly known as Twitter.
But an intriguing element of the disinformation that has flooded social media since Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel is that a lot of it has been produced or spread by right-leaning accounts based out of India.
Some of these fake stories include Hamas kidnapping a Jewish baby and beheading a young boy on the back of a truck. Blue check accounts have pushed false reports into the stratosphere of virality. One extremely popular tweet shared by thousands of people even claimed the Hamas attack was a US-led psyop.
The rise of the Islamophobic ‘disinfluencer’
BOOM, one of India’s most reputed fact-checking services, found several verified Indian X users at the helm of a disinformation campaign.
These “disinfluencers” – influencers who have routinely shared disinformation – have been “mostly targeting Palestine negatively, or being supportive of Israel”, according to BOOM.
They have peddled tropes that have sought to showcase Palestinians as fundamentally brutal.
In one instance, an account began circulating a video that claimed to show dozens of young girls taken as sex slaves by a “Palestinian” fighter. However, the video was likely from a school trip to Jerusalem. While relatively low quality, if you look carefully, you can see girls happily chatting and using their phones.
Despite this, the video got thousands of retweets and racked up at least 6 million impressions. An analysis of the accounts sharing the video showed that most were based in India.
It was even shared in the Telegram channel of Angry Saffron, an apparent open-source intelligence or OSINT channel operating from India. This suggests either sloppy intelligence or disinformation aimed at exploiting the credibility that the description “OSINT” might imply.
In another instance, a video circulated that falsely claimed to show Hamas kidnapping a Jewish baby. The video garnered more than a million views in one post alone. Seven of the top 10 most-shared tweets featuring the misleading video were profiles based in India or containing the Indian flag in their biography.
These seven tweets alone received more than 3 million impressions on X. However, the video was from September and had nothing to do with kidnapping or indeed with Gaza.al jazeera
- PLOTE to participate in Premier’s Monday meeting
- Mosques urged to follow health guidelines in view of the Covid outbreak
- Journalists barred from attending Parliament sittings, sessions limited to 2 hours on Tuesday
- All-Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama holds its centenary celebs. under the patronage of Sri Lankan president at BMICH on Thurs. Jan19