Indian right-wing accounts among leading amplifiers of anti-Palestinian fake news

islamphobic tweets

DOHA: In the wake of Israel’s occupation of Palestine, disinformation often pairs with anti-Palestinianism and Islamophobia, driven by social media.

Notably, many of the disinformation campaigns surrounding Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel have been propagated by right-leaning Indian accounts, according to a report published in Al-Jazeera.

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These “disinfluencers,” who routinely share disinformation, have mostly targeted Palestine negatively while being supportive of Israel, as found by BOOM, a reputable Indian fact-checking service. They have perpetuated stereotypes that portray Palestinians as inherently brutal. For instance, a video falsely claiming to show Palestinian fighters abducting young girls was circulated, even though it likely depicted a school trip to Jerusalem. The misleading video garnered millions of views, with many of the accounts sharing it being based in India.

In another case, a video falsely depicting Hamas kidnapping a Jewish baby gained widespread attention, with seven of the top 10 most-shared tweets featuring the video originating from India. These misleading videos often come from accounts that also engage in anti-Muslim rhetoric on X, further exacerbating the problem.

India has been grappling with an Islamophobia issue, which has grown with the rise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). A report by the Islamic Council of Victoria revealed that most Islamophobic tweets can be traced back to India.

The plight of the Palestinians has attracted Islamophobic individuals on social media, some of whom are associated with what’s known as the “BJP’s IT Cell.” This group has played a role in fueling online hatred against Palestinians.

Elon Musk’s takeover of X and his reduced focus on curbing misinformation on the platform may have set a precedent for other tech giants like Meta and YouTube, as they seem to be re-evaluating their efforts to combat hate speech, disinformation, and harmful content. The European Union even warned Musk about the surge in disinformation on X after the Hamas attack on Israel.

The convergence of Western support for Israel, Big Tech’s reduced commitment to content moderation, and the global reach of right-wing Indian accounts that promote Islamophobia are turning the Gaza crisis into a breeding ground for hatred against Palestinians and Muslims.

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