#Kashmirwantsfreedom #Savekashmirfrommodi #Kashmirbanegapakistan, #UnsubscribeIndiansyoutubers and #BBCNews were among the trending hashtags over the weekend on Twitter.
‘It’s a continuous process. Misinformation is platform agnostic; this is happening across platforms likeand Twitter and there is propaganda from both sides. While Pakistani users show old videos claiming to be representing the current situation in Kashmir, there is also right-wing propaganda from India showing old videos of unrelated incidents and claiming that Indian Muslims are either opposing or celebrating the move. We have been putting out multiple articles a day sincewas scrapped,’ said Pratik Sinha, founder of Alt News.
Jency Jacob, managing editor of BOOM, a website which works in partnership with Facebook to fact check stories and tags specific posts spreading misinformation on the platform, said social media users were sharing fake news ‘blindly’ and ’emotions were running high’.
Facebook said it is treating discussions on Kashmir with top priority on the platform and is removing content that violates its community standards.
‘In addition to removing content that violates our community standards, we’re also working with eight fact-checking partners, who fact-check in 10 languages in India to identify and remove misinformation that has the potential to incite offline harm,’ a Facebook spokesperson said.
‘The government is hoping that via clampdown they can probably reduce rumours, but rumours are not just a function of social media…even before social media, there was unrest and rumour mongering. What tools can the citizens use to figure out this has not happened. I’m not sure how the whole communication blackout is helping Kashmir — a connected world is much better than a disconnected world,’ Sinha explained.
On Saturday, a spokesperson from the ministry of home affairs tweeted that a Reuters report claiming there was a protest ininvolving 10,000 people was completely ‘fabricated and ‘incorrect’. The spokesperson further said that there were stray protests in Srinagar/Baramulla and none involved a crowd of more than 20 people.
Following the statement, @BBCWorld released a video showing several protestors marching on the streets with Article 370 placards and said it witnessed tear gas being used to disperse the largest protest since the lockdown in Kashmir.
‘A protest the Indian government said did not happen,’ @BBCWorld said.
Soon after, on Sunday, #BBCNews was trending on Twitter with several Indian users accusing it of disseminating fake news.
Director Shekhar Kapur also tweeted criticising the BBC coverage and wrote: ‘Hey @BBCWorld, each time you call Kashmir, Indian Occupied Kashmir, I keep wondering why you refuse to call Northern Ireland British Occupied Ireland?’
‘I have reported multiple posts and tweets in my personal capacity but haven’t heard from Twitter so far. Misinformation and inciteful content have been going up since Friday,’ a fact checker said on the condition of anonymity.
Twitter said it is taking action on accounts that are in violation of its rules. ‘Twitter does not allow platform manipulation on its service and enforces policies judiciously, impartially for all users — regardless of the political views expressed. This includes terrorism, hateful conduct, coordinated abuse and spreading misinformation at scale,’ a spokesperson said.
did not respond to ET’s queries till the time of going to press.
Jacob said his company had put out 22 articles busting fake news since the Article 370 announcement.
‘There’s a string of stories connected to rumours of either Muslims being attacked by the army or the army setting houses on fire. There are lots of old videos and images doing a comeback. We have seen a spike through the week. After the Prime Minister’s announcement and the curfew being lifted partially, lots of videos concerning protests surfaced,’ Jacob said.
With over 18,000 tweets, #UnsubscribeIndiansyoutubers was the number one trending hashtag on Twitter on Sunday. It was initially started by Pakistani users calling for a boycott of popular Indian YouTube accounts such as Bhuvan Bam’s BB Ki Vines, T Series and Set India.
‘Trust me, we can defeat India. If we stop and boycott on little things…boycott channels, social media, songs, movies, comedy shows, dramas, Big Boss,’ wrote a Pakistani user.
Indian users soon took to the hashtag too, lampooning Pakistani users for the move. ‘This is what happens when you have more terrorist camps than schools,’ wrote an Indian user while another one asked Indian Youtubers to put copyright and community guidelines strikes on all Pakistani reaction channels who use their content.