The famous American think tank Atlantic Council has discovered that an Indian government firm is running misleading ‘news’ and ‘fact check’ websites.
Anti-Pakistan and pro-Narendra Modi government propaganda were spread through these websites with the help of Indian diplomats through their social media accounts.
The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Lab (DFR Lab) shared the results of the investigation on its Verified Twitter account on Thursday.
The Digital Forensic Lab works to prevent the spread of lies and misinformation around the world.
According to the lab’s research, the Indian government hired a Canadian-based firm that not only disseminated material in favour of the Indian government but also disguised it as a media outlet through a new website, India vs. Disinformation. Also published several fact check reports.
The reports also targeted opponents of the government and local and international media outlets critical of it.
A #Toronto-based PR firm created a network of websites impersonating domestic media outlets that engaged in "fact-checking." Articles from their sites manipulated public perception in favor of #India and #Modi's #BJP government on a range of policies. https://t.co/loqzaWjBlq
— DFRLab (@DFRLab) May 27, 2021
Interestingly, the fake ‘fact check’ reports published from these websites were spread by Indian diplomats around the world through their verified Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Last year, the EU’s Disinfo Labs, a research organization working on fake news in the European Union, discovered hundreds of disinformation websites around the world that had been operating secretly for 15 years.
The Atlantic Council’s digital forensic lab, founded in Washington in the 1960s, has found that Press Monitor International, a PR firm based in Toronto, Canada, was hired by the Indian government to run local and local websites through two separate websites. On international issues, Narendra Modi tried to make a statement in favour of the government.
According to the research, the PR firm named one website India Versus Disinformation (https://www.indiavsdisinformation.com) and another website ‘India News Network’ (https: // Created in the name of /www.indianewsnetwork.com).
According to DFRL’s research, the firm Press Monitor International displayed its websites as Indian news organizations that do fact checks. However, it would publish articles that made statements in favour of the Indian government and against its opponents.
The Canadian-based firm created the impression among ordinary readers through fact checks that it was an independent journalism organization.
In response to written questions from the DFR Lab, the firm acknowledged that it had entered into agreements with the Indian government and some of its embassies to monitor the media.
However, the firm said that India versus misinformation has nothing to do with these agreements. It is an independent body.
The website published articles in favour of the repeal of Article 370 by the Modi government in Kashmir and the controversial citizenship law for minorities.
According to the research, Indian embassies in Sweden, Syria and Mongolia shared the content of this website on Facebook. His Twitter followers included 40 verified accounts belonging to Indian embassies, including the Indian embassies in Geneva, Iran, Qatar, New Zealand and Canada.
According to DFRL, the most shared tweet on the website was anti-Pakistan. The tweet was accompanied by a picture of a child sitting on top of his grandfather’s bloody body in Kashmir, saying it was the result of Pakistani terrorism.
The tweet quoted Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi as saying that the child’s picture was the real face of the Modi government in India.
— Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) July 1, 2020