16 October 2023: The surge in anti-Muslim disinformation on social media amid the Israel-Gaza conflict is marked by a significant participation of right-wing Indian accounts. Fabricated stories, such as Hamas kidnapping a Jewish baby and beheading a young boy, have been disseminated by Indian "disinfluencers." These influencers, verified on platforms like X, have played a prominent role in amplifying Islamophobic and anti-Muslim narratives. According to BOOM, a reputable fact-checking service in India, these "disinfluencers" often portray Palestinians in a negative light, supporting Israel.
One disinformation campaign involved circulating a video claiming to show Palestinian fighters taking young girls as sex slaves. However, it was later revealed that the video likely captured a school trip to Jerusalem. Despite its low quality, the video gained significant traction, particularly among Indian accounts, accumulating millions of impressions. Another misleading video falsely depicted Hamas kidnapping a Jewish baby, garnering over a million views, with seven of the top 10 most-shared tweets featuring the video originating from India or containing the Indian flag.
The intertwining of India's Islamophobia issue, exacerbated by the rise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, with the digital dissemination of misleading content adds a layer of complexity. Elon Musk's handling of misinformation on X has raised concerns, influencing other tech giants to reassess their content moderation strategies. The European Union's warning to Musk underscores the severity of the disinformation problem on social media.
This confluence of Western support for Israel, lax content moderation by major tech companies, and the influence of right-wing Indian accounts creates a toxic environment, intensifying hatred against Palestinians and Muslims amid the Gaza crisis. The interplay between geopolitical conflicts, online misinformation, and the role of influential actors on social media platforms contributes to a deeply troubling narrative surrounding the ongoing situation in the region.
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Source: Al Jazeera
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