The whole world is aware of India’s disinformation campaigns against Pakistan, with a famous revelation by EU Disinformation Lab on December 9th, 2020 on how India had been involved in undermining Pakistan on different international platforms.
These days it is no different, with the Indian massive Twitter hashtag campaign #CivilWarinPakistan that shook the social media, making different social media personalities condemning India for such malignment.
This campaign was analyzed by an organization named, “Digital Rights Monitor”, who conducted an analysis of the mentioned trend. According to the analysis conducted by the organization, 61 percent of the tweets mentioning this trend originated in India, with the highest number of tweets sourced in New Delhi with a shocking 10 percent of the tweets.
Source: Digital Rights Monitor
More than 84 thousand tweets were generated with this hashtag, with 6688 tweets/hour being made at the peak of the trend. According to the analysis by the organization, 85 percent were retweets, “a sign of artificial and organized amplification of the trend”.
Other than the Digital Rights Monitor, data scientist, and social media researcher, Shoaib Taimur also did an analysis of the same disinformation campaign and posted the results on Twitter. According to him, almost 1590 accounts in the trend were made since January 2021. 468 of those accounts were made in April, and 120 of the accounts were set up in the past two days when the issue had started.
A filtered network graph of the trend. Some people were tagged and were not part of it, while others were active participants. pic.twitter.com/jE2u8yujed
— Shoaib Taimur (@shobz) April 18, 2021
He also posted a graph of the biggest accounts that led the campaign, including “meghupdates”, “Kashmir_watch”, and “baba_khatarnaag”.
According to the Digital Rights Monitor, many of the Indian accounts have, “a public history of spreading anti-Pakistan propaganda.” Among them is Major Gaurav Arya, who even in India is known as a spreader of fake news and has been known to spread fake news about Pakistan.
Even today, when the trend has died down, this Major has been spreading false news on Twitter such as, “Initial reports from Pakistan suggest that Pak Army soldiers are deserting their posts in support of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan.“
Even regional chief correspondent of AA for Asia-Pacific, Islamuddin Sajid replied to this tweet saying, “One of the Indian journalists told me that Gaurav is known in India as the mother of fake news and disinformation,” discrediting Major Arya.
One of Indian journalist told me that Gaurav is known in India as "mother of fake news and disinformation". This is his old habit to spread propaganda, false &hateful information against 🇵🇰 and Muslims in India &Kashmir @majorgauravarya https://t.co/gSdtjfon6e
— Islamuddin Sajid (@islamudinsajid) April 19, 2021
According to Digital Rights Monitor, Another Indian account, V K Sharma is also one of the top influencers of the trend. “The accounts spreading misinformation about a nonexistent civil war are also contributing to hashtags #TLPNationWideProtest and #Stop_Gov_terrorism”, the organization wrote.
History of Disinformation Campaign
Digital Rights Foundation, a leading ICT research, and advocacy NGO based in Pakistan wrote a review in October last year.
It mentioned how political developments from Pakistan such as protests from within the ranks of the Sindh police against the siege of the Inspector General House on October 191 and an explosion that left 5 people dead in Karachi on October 21 were weaponized to build a misleading narrative regarding the ‘civil unrest in the country.
It must be mentioned that the explosion was due to gas leakage, however, the Indian disinformation campaign labeled it as a terrorist attack labeling Pakistan as an ‘unstable’ country.
Then too, the #CivilWar hashtag was trending. Again, Megh Updates, or mentioned earlier as @meghupdates was among the influencers.
It is interesting how such tweets have now been deleted.
This was not a mistake as then; Pakistan was soon to have its plenary hearing with FATF. According to the DRF, “The timing of this disinformation campaign is not coincidental, it came at a time when Pakistan’s status on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was under review via its virtual plenary session from October 21 to 23.”