India calls out Pakistan for motivated false propaganda on social media

Published: 02 September, 2020 07:53 IST | ANI | New York

This follows a report by Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) on its investigation exposing a network of Pakistan-based Facebook and Instagram accounts that leveraged mass reporting to silence critics of Islamabad.

This picture has been used for representational purpose
This picture has been used for representational purpose

India on Tuesday called out Pakistan for propagating fake news through social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. "Malicious propaganda, misinformation, #infodemic, fake news. Call it what you may. Do read this report from the @stanfordio on motivated false propaganda from Pakistan. The truth is out for the world to see," Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations (New York) tweeted. This follows a report by Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) on its investigation exposing a network of Pakistan-based Facebook and Instagram accounts that leveraged mass reporting to silence critics of Islamabad.

"On August 31, 2020, Facebook suspended 103 Pages, 78 Groups, 453 Facebook accounts, and 107 Instagram accounts for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour. As it notes in its takedown report, Facebook attributed this network to individuals in Pakistan," the SIO report reads. Facebook shared a portion of this network on August 28 with the SIO which then conducted its own investigation and brought out its report.

The report highlights how a network of social media accounts originating in Pakistan posted Pakistani nationalist messages and criticized the Indian government. It also highlighted how the mass reporting networks operated, with Group and Page administrators mobilizing social media users to report accounts that were critical of Islam or the Pakistani military/government. Moreover, many pages and Groups posted Pakistani nationalist content, praising ISI, the Pakistan's intelligence agency and the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

It further said this is not the first public suspension of coordinated activity in Pakistan and that in April 2019 Facebook suspended a network of accounts linked to the InterServices Public Relations wing of the Pakistani military. According to Digital Forensic Research Lab, that network "represented a significant influence operation, apparently aimed at boosting support for the army inside Pakistan and boosting support for Pakistan abroad."

Additionally, reporting shows that Pakistani politicians work directly with prominent social media trolls to get pro-Pakistan hashtags trending on Twitter.

The SIO report also noted "the repeated invoking of duty towards religion and nation for mass reporting".

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