Amid the Israel-Gaza war, Indian right-wing accounts are among leading amplifiers of anti-Palestinian fake news, a kind of online disinformation witnessing surge since Narendra Modi’s rise as prime minister of India since 2014.
According to Kashmir Media Service, a report compiled by an Arab channel says that an intriguing element of the disinformation that has flooded social media since Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel is that a lot of it has been produced or spread by right-leaning accounts based out of India.
Some of these fake stories include Hamas kidnapping a Jewish baby and beheading a young boy on the back of a truck. Blue check accounts have pushed false reports into the stratosphere of virality. One extremely popular tweet shared by thousands of people even claimed the Hamas attack was a US-led psyo.
BOOM, one of India’s most reputed fact-checking services, found several verified Indian X users at the helm of a disinformation campaign. These “disinfluencers” – influencers who have routinely shared disinformation – have been “mostly targeting Palestine negatively, or being supportive of Israel”, according to BOOM. They have peddled tropes that have sought to showcase Palestinians as fundamentally brutal.
In one instance, an account began circulating a video that claimed to show dozens of young girls taken as sex slaves by a “Palestinian” fighter. However, the video was likely from a school trip to Jerusalem. While relatively low quality, if you look carefully, you can see girls happily chatting and using their phones.
Despite this, the video got thousands of retweets and racked up at least 6 million impressions. An analysis of the accounts sharing the video showed that most were based in India.
It was even shared in the Telegram channel of Angry Saffron, an apparent open-source intelligence or OSINT channel operating from India. This suggests either sloppy intelligence or disinformation aimed at exploiting the credibility that the description “OSINT” might imply.