India's "Firehose of Falsehood" Propaganda Model Targets Pakistan

India with its massive disinformation campaign against Pakistan, as recently revealed by EU Disinfo Lab, appears to be following what a US think tank RAND calls "Firehose of Falsehood" propaganda model. It has over 750 fake media outlets covering 119 countries. There are over 750 domain names, some in the name of dead people and others using stolen identities. Pakistani policymakers charged with countering the Indian propaganda should read the RAND report "Firehose of Falsehoods" for its 5 specific recommendations to the US government to effectively respond to the Russian disinformation campaign. In particular they should heed its key advice: "All other things being equal, messages received in greater volume and from more sources will be more persuasive.......Don't expect to counter Russia's firehose of falsehood with the squirt gun of truth. Instead, put raincoats on those at whom the firehose is aimed" 

Scale and Duration of India's Campaign:

EU Disinfo Lab, an NGO that specializes in disinformation campaigns, has found that India is carrying out a massive 15-year-long disinformation campaign to hurt Pakistan. The key objective of the Indian campaign as reported in "Indian Chronicles" is as follows: "The creation of fake media in Brussels, Geneva and across the world and/or the repackaging and dissemination via ANI and obscure local media networks – at least in 97 countries – to multiply the repetition of online negative content about countries in conflict with India, in particular Pakistan".  After the disclosure of India's anti-Pakistan propaganda campaign, Washington-based US analyst Michael Kugelman tweeted: "The scale and duration of the EU/UN-centered Indian disinformation campaign exposed by @DisinfoEU is staggering. Imagine how the world would be reacting if this were, say, a Russian or Chinese operation".  

American Analyst Michael Kugelman's Tweet on Indian Disinformation Campaign


Firehose of Falsehood:

What Kugelman calls "Russian Operation" appears to be a reference to a US government-funded think tank RAND Corporation's report entitled "The Russian "Firehose of Falsehood" Propaganda Model". Here is an except of the RAND report:

"Russian propaganda is produced in incredibly large volumes and is broadcast or otherwise distributed via a large number of channels. This propaganda includes text, video, audio, and still imagery propagated via the Internet, social media, satellite television, and traditional radio and television broadcasting. The producers and disseminators include a substantial force of paid Internet “trolls” who also often attack or undermine views or information that runs counter to Russian themes, doing so through online chat rooms, discussion forums, and comments sections on news and other websites".

EU Disinformation Lab Report on India's Disinformation Campaign Against Pakistan


Indian Political Unity Against Pakistan:  

Former US President Barack Obama has observed that “Expressing hostility toward Pakistan was still the quickest route to national unity (in India)”.  The Indian disinformation campaign is a manifestation of Indians' political unity against Pakistan.  EU Disinfo Lab has found that Indian Chronicles is a 15-year-long campaign that started in 2005 on former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's watch, well before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's election to India's highest office in 2014. It has grown to over 750 fake media outlets covering 119 countries. There are over 750 domain names, some in the name of dead people and others using stolen identities.  Here is an excerpt of EU Disinfo Lab's report:

"The creation of fake media in Brussels, Geneva and across the world and/or the repackaging and dissemination via ANI and obscure local media networks – at least in 97 countries – to multiply the repetition of online negative content about countries in conflict with India, in particular Pakistan". 


RAND's Recipe:  

Traditional countermeasures are ineffective against "firehose of falsehoods" propaganda techniques. As researchers Christopher Paul and Miriam Mathews of RAND put it: "Don't expect to counter the firehose of falsehood with the squirt gun of truth." They suggest:

1. Repeating the counter-information 

2. Providing an alternative story to fill in the gaps created when false "facts" are removed 

2. Forewarning people about propaganda, highlighting the ways propagandists manipulate public opinion. 

3.  Countering the effects of propaganda, rather than the propaganda itself; for example, to counter propaganda that undermines support for a cause, work to boost support for that cause rather than refuting the propaganda directly 

5. Turning off the flow by enlisting the aid of Internet service providers and social media services, and conducting electronic warfare and cyberspace operation

Summary: 

India with its massive disinformation campaign against Pakistan appears to be following what a US think tank RAND calls "Firehose of Falsehoods". Pakistani policymakers charged with countering the Indian propaganda should read the RAND report "Firehose of Falsehoods" for its 5 specific recommendations to the US government to effectively respond to the Russian disinformation campaign. In particular they should heed its key advice: "All other things being equal, messages received in greater volume and from more sources will be more persuasive.......Don't expect to counter Russia's firehose of falsehoods with the squirt gun of truth. Instead, put raincoats on those at whom the firehose is aimed" 

Comments

Anonymous said…
Why the Modi government gets away with lies, and how the opposition could change that
As with Putin’s Russia and Trump’s America, India faces a ‘fire-hosing of falsehood’. Mere fact-checking won’t defeat it.

https://theprint.in/opinion/why-modi-government-gets-away-with-lies/422211/


he Narendra Modi government announces a grand stimulus ‘package’ that it claims is worth Rs 20 lakh crore or ‘10 per cent’ of India’s GDP. But barely a fraction of it is new money being pumped into the economy. What is made to look like a stimulus is mostly a grand loan mela.

The Modi government is making hungry migrant labourers pay train fare. When this became a political hot potato, it said it was paying 85 per cent per cent of the fare and the state governments were paying the rest 15 per cent. Truth was that that 85 per cent was notional subsidy — in effect, the migrants were being charged the usual fare, and in some places, even more.

The Modi government has made lying an art form. This non-stop obvious lying was described by George Orwell as doublethink: “Every message from the extremely repressive leadership reverses the truth. Officials repeat ‘war is peace’ and ‘freedom is slavery,’ for example. The Ministry of Truth spreads lies. The Ministry of Love tortures lovers.”

People are thus expected to believe as true what is clearly false, and also take at face value mutually contradictory statements. The Modi government talked about NRC, but it also did not talk about it. The Modi government is making migrants pay for train fares, but at the same time, it is not charging them. Doublethink also applies other Orwellian principles — Newspeak, Doublespeak, Thoughtcrime, etc.

But why do people accept it all so willingly? Why do the people who are lied to every day go and vote for the same BJP?

There are many obvious answers to this question: weak opposition, mouthpiece media, social media manipulation, and Modi’s personality cult that makes his voters repose great faith in him.
Terry A. said…
True & 100% Accurate .......

But apparently they found that the Russian
Interference was invalid and Muller team could not find Hardcore evidence to implicate the Russians ( even though I believe that the Russians have been & still are always attempting to infiltrate our Govt
Networks & Secret Codes )

The bigger and more covered up & concealed threat is from the CCP Organizations from their Mainland ........ however they are hand in glove with many multi billionaires in the USA
Who have thus far covered their tracks......
But it won’t be long before they are exposed .......... once that happens what does anyone think the president & congress can do ?????
My Answer is .......... “ Little to Nothing “ as Congress & Senate Politicians are also Hand in glove with those same MultiBillionaires & their foreign allies here ?
Riaz Haq said…
Terry: "But apparently they found that the Russian
Interference was invalid and Muller team could not find Hardcore evidence to implicate the Russians ( even though I believe that the Russians have been & still are always attempting to infiltrate our Govt
Networks & Secret Codes) "

Muller did find a Russian disinfo campaign and indicted several Russian intelligence officers.

What he couldn't establish was "collusion" between the Russians and the Trump campaign.


Terry: "The bigger and more covered up & concealed threat is from the CCP Organizations from their Mainland"

And the Chinese hacking is more related to technology research which Americans do as well.

With Hacking, the United States Needs to Stop Playing the Victim The U.S. also uses cybertools to defend its interests. It’s the age of perpetual cyberconflict.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/23/opinion/russia-united-states-hack.html

By Paul R. Kolbe who served for 25 years in the C.I.A.’s directorate of operations overseas. He is currently director of the Intelligence Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

The United States is, of course, engaged in the same type of operations at an even grander scale. We are active participants in an ambient cyberconflict that rages, largely unseen and unacknowledged, across the digital globe. This is a struggle that we can’t avoid, and there is no need to play the victim. Just as we use cybertools to defend our national interests, others will use cyberweapons against us.

The National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency exist to break into foreign information systems and steal secrets, and they are damn good at it. They, along with the Defense Department, regularly use cybertools to purloin intelligence from servers across the world and to place foreign information systems and industrial infrastructure at risk. Ones and zeros can be more effective weapons than bombs and missiles. The exposure of Stuxnet, the Snowden leaks and the theft of C.I.A. cybertools revealed the sophistication and extent of capabilities attributed to the United States.

The Pentagon’s cyberwar force, known as Cyber Command, overtly acknowledges, through its “defend forward” doctrine, that the government will target foreign entities and information systems to fight cyberattacks. In November 2018, Cyber Command reportedly disrupted the internet access of the computers of Russia’s Internet Research Agency, the organization responsible for the disinformation campaign during the 2016 U.S. midterm elections. In 2019, in response to Russian cyberincursions into the U.S. energy grid, Cyber Command reportedly placed malware tools on Russia systems that could enable the United States to turn out the lights in Moscow should a conflict between the two nations arise.
Riaz Haq said…
#ANI linked to #India’s anti-#Pakistan #disinformation campaign is reporting that #Pakistani intelligence agency #ISI influenced #US #Elections2020. #fakenews | Business Standard News


https://www.business-standard.com/article/international/us-on-alert-after-link-found-between-a-state-govt-website-isi-linked-firm-120120700146_1.html


The United States and the Nevada government have been put on alert by an Anti-Voter Fraud group after a suspicious link was found between the state government website and a Lahore-based company allegedly linked to the Pakistani intelligence services.

According to an article by Kristina Wong titled 'Anti-Voter Fraud Group Finds Suspicious Link Between Nevada State Website and Intelligence-Linked Pakistani Company' published in Breitbart News on December 5, "The organization, True the Vote, alerted state and federal authorities after it requested a Nevada voter registration list through the Nevada secretary of state's website, and received an email back with a downloadable voter file. That email arrived with an employee of Pakistani company Kavtech carbon copied."


Catherine Engelbrecht, 'True the Vote' President, informed John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security in a letter, obtained exclusively by Breitbart News, that upon receiving the email, "I was shocked to see the inclusion of another email address in the CC line."

"The address was waqas@kavtech.net. Waqas Butt is the CEO of Kavtech Solutions Ltd.. Kavtech is a Pakistani owned company, located in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan, with ties to Pakistani intelligence, military, and the interior," she said in the letter.

Meanwhile, the election researchers familiar with the incident has opined that the inclusion of another email address in the CC line could either be an "an accident by a contractor who worked on the Nevada secretary of state's website" or even an indication of the involvement of an unauthorised company allegedly linked to Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) into the backend of the Nevada government's website system.

"Such an intrusion could be problematic if downloading the voter registration list also worked as a phishing attack, where hackers could gain entry into the servers of those requesting the lists, or if hackers had access to state government email communications," Kristina said.

"The fact that this company was cc'ed on an email containing access to the Nevada voter registration database appears to be evidence of a breach within the Nevada Secretary of State's email system," Engelbrecht told Demers.

"Obviously, the problems that such a breach may evidence include access to at least the voter registration information of Nevada residents. At worst it could reveal a breach that gives a foreign power access to not only the State of Nevada's systems, but also to the email systems of anyone whom the State communicates with via email," she added.

Post the incident, Engelbrecht said in an interview with Breitbart News, "Why would they [Pakistani company] be getting this information? Why would they show up on a cc line? There's no good way to look at that should make anyone feel confident in the security of this process."

"Further, all we can speak to is our experience. Who knows where else that is showing up and what else they're tracking? If it's embedded in a form like that, they could be doing that for any number of things," she further said.

"The implication here that a foreign national company with known ties to the intelligence community in Pakistan -- there's no way to overlook that. It's inexplicable and it should be investigated," she added.

Riaz Haq said…
Should Secular Democracies Get Away With Acts Of Subversion And Fabrication? – OpEd
Hamza Rifaat Hussain

https://ipripak.org/should-secular-democracies-get-away-with-acts-of-subversion-and-fabrication/?fbclid=IwAR23nvBYbfSrcQastLZRq18Qj7hsKDWj6rHYAKMxvIAGbM0-6tdak8GzVOs


Open source investigations can be a tedious and cumbersome task and ‘Indian Chronicles’ a report published by the EU’s DisinfoLab which details the fifteen year operation conducted by the Srivastava Group and Asian News International (ANI) is no exception. Since 2005, the operation continued unabated with astonishing tactics of subversion at the international level involving identity thefts, fake media outlets and domain names. This included Former President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz as well as photo of James Purnell, a former UK Minister who became subjects of egregious fabrication with close to 750 fake media outlets covering 119 countries or 61% of the global population as well as over 550 domain names being registered. The sole objective was to promote India’s narrative at the expense of transparency and authenticity to claim that this is ordinary is to claim that Albert Einstein was solely a scientist. It reveals a criminally bare story.

What the evidence does demonstrate is that New Delhi, through the Srivastava Group employed underhand tactics such as activating side events and demonstrations in support of minority rights in various countries as well as impersonating distinguished UN accredited NGOs with the aim of promoting ‘India- centric’ narratives and muzzling out divergent voices at the international level. Solid evidence has implicated organizations created by the Srivastava Group, which successfully organized trips to Brussels in Belgium for members of the European parliament (MEPs) to Kashmir, Bangladesh and even the Maldives. The delegates purportedly attending these conferences were not EU officials per say, given that they lacked sanctioning from the European Parliament but impersonations and fake profiles as per the Commission to Study the Organization of Peace (CSOP), a US based NGO had become inactive in the late 1970s yet in 2005, its identity had been hijacked by actors from the Srivastava Family given that the deceased Professor Louis B Sohn, had actually passed away in 2006 and apparently attended both a UN Human Rights Council Meeting in 2007 and participated in the ‘Friends of Gilgit Baltistan’ event in Washington D.C. in 2011.

Furthermore, informal groups such as the ‘South Asia Peace Forum’ and ‘The Baloch Forum’ were also considered integral components of the European Parliament with press conferences and events taking place worldwide These shocking revelations cannot be simply contested as attempts by India’s adversaries, Pakistan or China to deflect blame, but are realistic attempts which threaten the very foundations of diplomatic initiatives in Western democracies as well as states which are grappling with issues such as terrorism on their shores.


Riaz Haq said…
Should Secular Democracies Get Away With Acts Of Subversion And Fabrication? – OpEd
Hamza Rifaat Hussain

https://ipripak.org/should-secular-democracies-get-away-with-acts-of-subversion-and-fabrication/?fbclid=IwAR23nvBYbfSrcQastLZRq18Qj7hsKDWj6rHYAKMxvIAGbM0-6tdak8GzVOs


Despite this moral bankruptcy, the Srivastava Group continued its operations unabashedly and unabatedly given that they fell below the global radar. The recent launch of the ‘EU Chronicle’ which is a fake EU outlet spread disinformation and reached out to world capitals to promote fabricated narratives and muzzle out dissenting voices, particularly from India’s staunchest adversaries such as Pakistan and China. Recently, India’s nuclear armed rival, shared a dossier on India’s terror campaign with the United Nations Secretary General which mentions New Delhi’s sponsorship of groups such as the Tehrik I Taliban and Jamaat Ul Ahrar which are terrorist organizations of which the former was responsible for the heinous 2014Army Public School attack in Peshawar six years ago. The setting up of a dedicated cell to sabotage the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, an economic lifeline for cash strapped Pakistan with investments worth Rs 500 million as well as subversive tactics in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan underlines how Beijing’s influence was also viewed as a threat and had to be targeted through disinformation campaigns and systematic investments. All this was emanating from a secular democracy and not rogue dictatorships such as Iran or Russia with a history of attempts to hijack, dissuade, project and subvert international norms for promoting Moscow or Tehran’s global ambitions.

There is a catch for states which have not been provided with international platforms to voice their concerns. India’s rival and the most brutalized victim, Pakistan has long been considered to be partly complicit in regional terrorism and for its failure to crack down on militants on its soil. Islamabad has also been significantly berated at the United Nations with less than convincing counter narratives to truly depict the country as a victim instead of a sponsor of terrorism. The report by DisinfoLab however, has vindicated such positions, given that disinformation campaigns launched by New Delhi has not implicated fledgling dictatorships but Western democratic, diplomatic representatives which have been championing the cause of transparency and curbing cybercrime across the globe.

Numerous analysts, scholars, academics and practitioners and even the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan had pointed to the campaigns initiated by Indian lobbies in the United States, Europe and Asia and their ability to garner widespread support for its narrative as a key factor in promoting wider Indian designs. The multiplication of repetitive negative content online has resulted in global audiences to consume the fact that they were not being diplomatically represented in august forums given that the profiles of their representatives were fabricated and personal information was tapped into which is nothing short of state sponsored clandestine, propaganda warfare.

The evidence is undoubtedly damning, revealing and shocking and requires international attention given that transparency, the right to privacy, curbing cybercrime, stymying defamation campaigns and acts of subversion, have long been advocated for as globally inviolable norms. What the international community’s response to the EU DisinfoLab’s revelations will hence be the real challenge given that this emanated from a secular democracy not a rogue dictatorship.
Riaz Haq said…
Has a ‘fifth generation war’ started between India and Pakistan?
What do recent revelations about an Indian disinformation campaign against Pakistan tell us about regional dynamics?

Ahsan I Butt

https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2021/1/4/are-india-and-pakistan-in-a-fifth-generation-war

The symbiosis between the Indian government and its media is not new. Just eighteen months ago, India and Pakistan found themselves in the midst of a dangerous crisis that risked nuclear war. In those nervy and tense times, the Indian media, according to a Polis Project study, “largely ascribed to itself the role of an amplifier of government propaganda”, regurgitating baseless claims and pouring jingoistic fuel on to a raging nationalistic fire.

Simlarly, the EU DisinfoLab report has proffered evidence that India’s “private” mainstream media is in many ways an arm of the Indian state. In so doing, it has strengthened Pakistan’s position regarding the degradation of India’s national political institutions. India’s reputation as a democracy, so crucial to its soft power, has already taken a battering under Modi. This report does not help.

Of course, the West maintains good relations with India not because of its democratic status, but rather because of its potential to balance China and fuel economic growth. It would be unreasonable to expect this report to fundamentally alter this trajectory.

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For instance, the Soviet Union and the United States sponsored propaganda and misinformation against each other during the Cold War. The US eagerly expanded the scope of its propaganda and psychological operations under President Dwight Eisenhower and went on to build an impressive infrastructure of institutions, such as Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, that were devoted to the task.

For its part, the USSR enjoyed focusing on racism in the US. Propaganda posters would often juxtapose symbols of American democracy, such as the Statue of Liberty, with emblems of slavery, racism, and domestic terrorism, such as the Ku Klux Klan or the police.


The point here is not merely to dispute the nomenclature of “fifth-generation war”. Rather, by considering disinformation and perception management as tools of war rather than “normal” politics and diplomacy, states risk exaggerating the severity of the threats they face. Though all war is politics, as Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz famously observed, not all politics is war.
Riaz Haq said…
India-Pakistan Engage In 5th Gen Warfare As Propaganda War Erupts Over Kashmir, Balochistan


https://eurasiantimes.com/india-pakistan-engage-in-5th-gen-warfare-as-propaganda-war-erupts-over-kashmir-balochistan/


An article by Ahsan I Butt, an associate professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, in Al Jazeera, states Pakistan is being ignorant in not accepting the security threats while gleefully hailing the report.

Butt says “there is little doubt that such a vast enterprise could and would exist only with the government’s knowledge”. He underlines the emerging argument of Pakistan facing a “new type of holistic war” but at the same time, speculates if this could lead to a fifth-generation war between the two neighbors.

India’s ministry of external affairs has already refuted the allegations made by the EU report. In response to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s charge of India peddling fake news, Anurag Srivastava, spokesperson for MEA, said: “As a responsible democracy, India does not practice disinformation campaigns”.

“In fact, you are looking at disinformation, the best example is the country next door which is circulating fictional and fabricated dossiers and purveys a regular stream of fake news,” he said.

Pakistan Releases Dossier
While India has shrugged off such claims, Pakistan itself has been leading the “war of narratives” from its side. In November 2020, Pakistan made public a dossier containing “proofs” of the “India-sponsored” terrorism in Pakistan.

Foreign Minister Qureshi, accompanied by military spokesman Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar, backed the allegation of India aiding and abetting terrorism for destabilizing the region with specific evidence of financing, training, harboring, and weapons supply in the shape of copies of correspondence, bank transactions, and communication intercepts.

Hassan Aslam Shad, a practicing international lawyer, writing in an article for The Diplomat also speculates these developments between India and Pakistan mark “a new war of narratives” between the two nuclear powers.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, ever since he has come to power in 2018, has played an important role in leading a campaign against India on the Kashmir issue on international platforms.

Riaz Haq said…
Exposing #India's #fakenews war against #Pakistan: EU DisinfoLab Executive Director Alexandre Alaphilippe stated that it was the ‘largest network’ of disinformation they have exposed. #IndianChronicles #disinformation https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2021/01/09/exposing-the-fake-news-war-against-pakistan/

For nearly 15 years, a network comprising over a thousand mostly Indian news outlets and domains operating across the world systematically influenced international opinion against Pakistan. Unquestioned by key officials in the United States and Europe, these sources of motivated information and disinformation constituted an essential part of a pro-India group’s campaign against Pakistan.


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Without really figuring out the ‘movers and shakers’ behind the negative publicity against it, Pakistan has struggled to manage Shia–Sunni rivalries, terror outfits and disgruntled ethnic Pashtun and Baloch movements. Islamabad failed to focus on how Indian networks — ANI, Zee News and New Delhi Times, as well as hundreds of their partners abroad — were exploiting these internal fault-lines.

These three news organisations specifically focused on Balochistan, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and religious minorities when reporting on Pakistan, serving as primary sources of information for their partners in Europe and the United States.

‘Not stopping this sort of malicious activity says a lot about the Indian government’, says the ANU’s Claude Rakisits. New Delhi may not have been behind the campaign, but they certainly turned a blind eye to it.

The Indian Chronicles report may now represent an opportunity for Pakistan — whose image is reeling from the consequences of the long-term campaign from India mounted against it — to set things right through astute diplomacy.

This affair reveals a deliberate and targeted disinformation campaign from within the world’s largest democracy. British jurist Nazir Gilani argues it is more than a fit case for Pakistan to raise in the European Union and on the floor of the United Nations. India’s self-interest trumped when it acquiesced in — even if not directly supported — a massive disinformation campaign on its neighbour.
Riaz Haq said…
Industrialized Disinformation
2020 Global Inventory of Organized
Social Media Manipulation
Samantha Bradshaw . University of Oxford
Hannah Bailey . University of Oxford
Philip N. Howard . University of Oxford

https://comprop.oii.ox.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/127/2021/01/CyberTroop-Report20-FINALv.3.pdf

Excerpts of Oxford Disinformation Report 2020:

By looking comparatively across the behaviours, expenditures, tools, and resources cyber troop employ, we can begin to build a larger comparative picture of the global organization of social media manipulation. National contexts are always important to consider. However, we suggest it is also worth generalizing about the experience of organized disinformation campaigns across regime types to develop a broad and comparative understanding of this phenomenon. We have begun to develop a simplistic measure to comparatively assess the capacity of cyber troop teams in relation to one another, taking into consideration the number of government actors involved, the sophistication of tools, the number of campaigns, the size and permanency of teams, and budgets or expenditures made. We describe cyber troop capacity on a three-point scale (High, Medium, Low):

High cyber troop capacity involves large numbers of staff, and large budgetary expenditure on psychological operations or information warfare. There might also be significant funds spent on research and development, as well as evidence of a multitude of techniques being used. These teams do not only operate during elections but involve full-time staff dedicated to shaping the information space. High-capacity cyber troop teams focus on foreign and domestic operations. They might also dedicate funds to state-sponsored media for overt propaganda campaigns. High-capacity teams include: Australia, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, and Vietnam.
----------------

One example of this phenomenon is the human networks of cyber troops in Pakistan, who both artificially boost political campaigns, but also mass report tweets that oppose their agenda as spam, causing the Twitter algorithm to block that issue’s access to the trending panel (Poplzaj & Jahangir, 2019). Recently, however, Twitter has maintained a 0% compliance rate with government requests to take down content that would fall under cyber troop activities (Twitter Transparency Report, 2019). Twitter is not the only platform involved. Facebook and Google have also been a focus of cyber troops in Pakistan: on Facebook, Pakistan successfully restricted more than 5,700 posts between January and June 2019 (Facebook Transparency Report, 2019) and on Google more than 3,299 posts were requested to be removed between January and June 2019 (Google Transparency Report, 2019). Facebook, Twitter and Google have expressed their concern at these restrictive activities and have also recently threatened to remove their services from Pakistan in response to legislative attempts to censor digital content, but they have yet to act on this threat (Singh, 2020)
Riaz Haq said…
#Indian TV anchor Arnab Goswami on #PulwamaAttack: "This attack we have won like crazy." Goswami is known be close to #Modi government, often considered #BJP's mouthpiece. He know #Pulwama was about to happen. #TRPScam #WhatsAppLeaks #Kashmir #Balakot https://thelogicalindian.com/trending/goswami-balakot-air-strikes-26172

The WhatsApp chats also reveal that Goswami allegedly had prior information about some sensitive events including the Balakot airstrikes, three days before it happened.

In a massive development in the ongoing TRP scam case, a 500-page document of alleged chats of Republic TV's Arnab Goswami was allegedly leaked on social media. The alleged chats reveal damning information related to Goswami's proximity with the Prime Minister's office and members of the ruling government, his efforts to manipulate TRPs in his favour and seek help from the BJP government and much more. The chats allegedly show Goswami and Dasgupta discussing politicians, journalists, news networks, and the TRP system. In one of the alleged chats of February 14, 2019, Goswami says "This attack we have won like crazy." The message was sent on the same day when 40 CRPF personnel had lost their lives after a convoy of vehicles carrying security personnel on the Jammu Srinagar National Highway was attacked by a vehicle-borne suicide bomber at Lethpora in the Pulwama district, Jammu and Kashmir.

The alleged chats also reveal that Goswami had prior information about some sensitive events and details including the Balakot airstrikes, three days before it happened

In the alleged chats, there are several pages of Goswami conversing with former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta. Several portions of the alleged chat have been leaked on social media. The alleged chats primarily show how Goswami asked for help to push the TRPs of the channel ahead of other news channels. The alleged chats also reveal that Goswami and Dasgupta met regularly, joked about politicians, discussed crucial political developments, and gossiped about journalists such as Rajdeep Sardesai ("he is losing his job"), Sagarika Ghose ("she is rotting in Times"), Aroon Purie ("part of a Cong propaganda machine"), Ashok Malik ("such a hypocrite"), Rajat Sharma (an "utter fool" with a "substandard channel"), Rahul Shivshankar ("an ass"), and business journalists ("all bloody bootlickers"). Some alleged chats from 2019 shows Goswami and Dasgupta discussing Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut and how she helps in generating TRPs. "Kangana is a massive rating earner", Goswami says. Goswami's alleged WhatsApp chat was leaked on social media on the same day when the Bombay High Court adjourned the hearing in the TRP Scam case till 29 January. The Mumbai Police also said that they will not arrest Goswami until the next hearing.

https://thelogicalindian.com/trending/goswami-balakot-air-strikes-26172
Riaz Haq said…
#Socialmedia #algorithms amplify the incendiary—the attacks, the misinformation, the conspiracy theories. What you see in your feeds isn’t up to you. That needs to change. @JoannaStern explores some solutions. #disinformation https://www.wsj.com/articles/social-media-algorithms-rule-how-we-see-the-world-good-luck-trying-to-stop-them-11610884800?reflink=desktopwebshare_twitter via @WSJ

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when we lost control of what we see, read—and even think—to the biggest social-media companies.

I put it right around 2016. That was the year Twitter and Instagram joined Facebook and YouTube in the algorithmic future. Ruled by robots programmed to keep our attention as long as possible, they promoted stuff we’d most likely tap, share or heart—and buried everything else.

Bye-bye, feeds that showed everything and everyone we followed in an unending, chronologically ordered river. Hello, high-energy feeds that popped with must-clicks.

At around the same time, Facebook—whose News Feed has been driven by algorithms since 2009—hid the setting to switch back to “Most Recent.”

No big deal, you probably thought, if you thought about it at all. Except these opaque algorithms didn’t only maximize news of T. Swift’s latest album drops. They also maximized the reach of the incendiary—the attacks, the misinformation, the conspiracy theories. They pushed us further into our own hyperpolarized filter bubbles.
Riaz Haq said…
Cyberspace Plus Trump Almost Killed Our Democracy. Can Europe Save Us?

by Tom Friedman


Cyberspace is starting to resemble a sovereign nation-state, but without borders or governance. It has its own encrypted communications systems, like Telegram, outside the earshot of terrestrial governments. It has its own global news gathering and sharing platforms, like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. It even has its own currencies — Bitcoin and others — that no sovereign state has minted.

In recent years, all these platforms have mushroomed. They can elevate important voices that were never heard before. But they can also enable a believer in Jewish-run space laser


https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/09/opinion/cyberspace-democracy-europe.html


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Donald Trump has been impeached for trying to kill the results of our last election, but we should have no illusions that whatever happens at his trial, the weapon he used is still freely available for others to deploy. It’s a realm called “cyberspace” — where we’re all connected but no one is in charge.

Trump, like no leader before, took advantage of that realm to spread a Big Lie, undermine trust in our electoral system and inspire an attack on our Capitol. We need a democratic fix for cyberspace fast.

China has figured out how to project its autocratic system and Communist values into cyberspace, to enhance its growth and stability, better than we’ve figured out how to project our democratic values into cyberspace to enhance our growth and stability. And we invented the damn thing!

If we don’t figure this out fast, we’re going to fall behind China economically, because the pandemic has dramatically accelerated the digitization of everything, making cyberspace bigger and more important than ever.

Riaz Haq said…
Big #Tech Is Gearing Up for a Massive Fight With #Modi’s #India. Modi government has demanded #Facebook & #Twitter take down hundreds of posts this year, divulge sensitive user information or face potential jail terms for executives. #Hindutva #censorship https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-30/big-tech-is-gearing-up-for-a-massive-fight-with-modi-s-india

India is growing increasingly assertive in its efforts to control online communications, challenging Twitter and Facebook’s practices and threatening to set a precedent that could extend far beyond its borders.

--
While the administration’s push to exert more control over user data and online discourse reflects efforts globally to come to grips with tech giants and their enormous influence, the stakes in India are particularly high for internet firms because -- shut out of China -- it’s the only billion-people market up for grabs. Unlike authoritarian regimes such as Beijing, critics fear actions taken by the world’s largest democracy could offer a template for other governments to encroach on personal privacy in the name of domestic security.

“India has introduced draconian changes to its rules,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote in April. They “create new possibilities for government surveillance of citizens. These rules threaten the idea of a free and open internet built on a bedrock of international human rights standards.”

Holding internet companies responsible for content posted -- and in some cases, executives personally liable -- goes beyond what many countries demand and is a key point of dispute. Caught in this tug-of-war are hundreds of millions in India whose way of engaging with the internet now hangs in the balance. Facebook’s WhatsApp is in court arguing the new rules would circumvent its encryption, a key feature the company has touted in global marketing.

Modi’s administration has trained its sights on Twitter in recent months, given its role as the social platform of choice for politicians and celebrities. Cabinet ministers have accused the U.S. company of defying orders and suggested it should be stripped of its intermediary status -- making it directly accountable for content posted by its users. In May, Twitter slapped a “manipulated media” label on tweets from several accounts linked to Modi’s party. Police investigators have since called on senior executives and its offices, placing business in the world’s second most-populous nation at risk.

“Twitter is in a no-win situation here,” said Mike Masnick, founder of tech policy blog Techdirt. “Giving in to excessive government demands not only suppresses important speech, but opens the company up to even further pressure to silence critics of the government in India and elsewhere.”

Representatives for the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) that oversees regulation did not respond to several calls and emails seeking comment. WhatsApp and Twitter representatives declined to comment beyond past statements that they will aim to comply with government regulations.

India has said it welcomes criticism and dissent and its new rules are aimed at safeguarding public order and preventing harmful content such as child pornography and abuse videos. The country in recent years has grappled with an explosion of fake news across social media, much of it targeted at a largely first-time internet audience unaccustomed to sifting through online falsehoods. It came into conflict with Facebook in 2018 when the government asked WhatsApp to curb the spread of messages in connection with two dozen lynchings. Facebook’s response then was to restrict the forwarding of messages and label them as “forwarded.”


Riaz Haq said…
India source:

Pakistan plans to set up international media channel funded by China to build narrative: Report (India Today) The leaked documents that Indian agencies have laid their hands on from Pakistan's security establishment show that Pakistan wants to collaborate with China to carry out an information war campaign globally, with Beijing providing finances and guidance.

https://thecyberwire.com/newsletters/daily-briefing/10/118


The leaked documents that Indian agencies have laid their hands on from Pakistan's security establishment show that Pakistan wants to collaborate with China to carry out an information war campaign globally, with Beijing providing finances and guidance.

The concept paper, reviewed by India Today, is titled ‘Building capacity to contest inimical narratives through counter on alternative narratives.’

The paper says the projects looks at truth and factual aspects with a view to quashing misperception.

Internal dynamics in Pakistan are favourable for open media but financial challenges are a hurdle, the paper says while justifying the need to team up with China.

“There is a need for a media house of the stature of Al Jazeera and RT to propel amenable narrative. A media house by Pakistan and funded by China will achieve the stipulated objectives,” the document states.


https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/pakistan-china-international-media-channel-1816998-2021-06-19
Riaz Haq said…
#Disinformation Industry is Booming. Abhay Aggarwal, head of #Toronto-based CEO of #disinfo company "Press Monitor", says that his company’s services are used by the #Indian government. Disinfo campaigns have recently been found promoting #BJP #Modi https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/25/world/europe/disinformation-social-media.html

Private firms, straddling traditional marketing and the shadow world of geopolitical influence operations, are selling services once conducted principally by intelligence agencies.

They sow discord, meddle in elections, seed false narratives and push viral conspiracies, mostly on social media. And they offer clients something precious: deniability.

“Disinfo-for-hire actors being employed by government or government-adjacent actors is growing and serious,” said Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, calling it “a boom industry.”

Similar campaigns have been recently found promoting India’s ruling party, Egyptian foreign policy aims and political figures in Bolivia and Venezuela.

Mr. Brookie’s organization tracked one operating amid a mayoral race in Serra, a small city in Brazil. An ideologically promiscuous Ukrainian firm boosted several competing political parties.

In India, dozens of government-run Twitter accounts have shared posts from India Vs Disinformation, a website and set of social media feeds that purport to fact-check news stories on India.

India Vs Disinformation is, in reality, the product of a Canadian communications firm called Press Monitor.

Nearly all the posts seek to discredit or muddy reports unfavorable to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, including on the country’s severe Covid-19 toll. An associated site promotes pro-Modi narratives under the guise of news articles.

A Digital Forensic Research Lab report investigating the network called it “an important case study” in the rise of “disinformation campaigns in democracies.”

A representative of Press Monitor, who would identify himself only as Abhay, called the report completely false.

He specified only that it incorrectly identified his firm as Canada-based. Asked why the company lists a Toronto address, a Canadian tax registration and identifies as “part of Toronto’s thriving tech ecosystem,” or why he had been reached on a Toronto phone number, he said that he had business in many countries. He did not respond to an email asking for clarification.

A LinkedIn profile for Abhay Aggarwal identifies him as the Toronto-based chief executive of Press Monitor and says that the company’s services are used by the Indian government.
A set of pro-Beijing operations hint at the field’s capacity for rapid evolution.

Since 2019, Graphika, a digital research firm, has tracked a network it nicknamed “Spamouflage” for its early reliance on spamming social platforms with content echoing Beijing’s line on geopolitical issues. Most posts received little or no engagement.

In recent months, however, the network has developed hundreds of accounts with elaborate personas. Each has its own profile and posting history that can seem authentic. They appeared to come from many different countries and walks of life.

Graphika traced the accounts back to a Bangladeshi content farm that created them in bulk and probably sold them to a third party.

The network pushes strident criticism of Hong Kong democracy activists and American foreign policy. By coordinating without seeming to, it created an appearance of organic shifts in public opinion — and often won attention.

The accounts were amplified by a major media network in Panama, prominent politicians in Pakistan and Chile, Chinese-language YouTube pages, the left-wing British commentator George Galloway and a number of Chinese diplomatic accounts.

A separate pro-Beijing network, uncovered by a Taiwanese investigative outlet called The Reporter, operated hundreds of Chinese-language websites and social media accounts.


Riaz Haq said…
Real or Fake, We Can Make Any Message Go Viral: Amit Shah to BJP Social Media Volunteers
"We can keep making messages go viral, whether they are real or fake, sweet or sour," the BJP president boasted.


https://thewire.in/politics/amit-shah-bjp-fake-social-media-messages

“In the elections that took place in Uttar Pradesh a year ago, BJP’s social media workers made two big WhatsApp groups. One had 15 lakhmembers, the other 17 lakh. This means a total of 31 lakh. And every day at 8 am they would send ‘Know the Truth’. In which the truth about all the false stories printed in the newspapers about the BJP was given via WhatsApp, and it would go viral. And whichever paper had carried these stories, ordinary people, and social media, would get after them, that why have you printed lies, you should print the truth. And by doing this, slowly, the media became neutral.

“But we had a volunteer who was smart. As I said, messages go from bottom to top and and top to bottom. He put a message in the group – that Akhilesh Yadav had slapped Mulayam Singh. No such thing had happened. Mulayam and Akhilesh were 600 km apart. But he put this message. And the social media team spread it. It spread everywhere. By 10 that day my phone started ringing, bhaisahab, did you know Akhilesh slapped Mulayam…. So the message went viral. One should not do such things. But in a way he created a certain mahaul (perception). This is something worth doing but don’t do it! (Crowd laughs) Do you understand what I am saying?This is something worth doing but don’t do it! We can do good things too. We are capable of delivering any message we want to the public, whether sweet or sour, true of fake. We can do this work only because we have 32 lakh people in our WhatsApp groups. That is how we were able to make this viral.”

Riaz Haq said…
Abhay Aggarwal 3rd degree connection3rd
Media Monitoring, Public Relations, Digital Marketing, Content, Infographics, Video, Web and Mobile Apps Development
Toronto, Ontario, Canada Contact info

Press Monitor

https://www.linkedin.com/in/abhay-aggarwal/?originalSubdomain=ca


Press Monitor is India's leading media monitoring service.

Press Monitor services are used by President of India, Prime Minister of India, all the ministries of the Indian government, all Indian embassies worldwide, statutory bodies, regulatory bodies, public sector undertakings, multinational companies and Indian enterprises.

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Abhay Aggarwal
Media Monitoring, Public Relations, Digital Marketing, Content, Infographics, Video, Web and Mobile Apps Development

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Message

Abhay Aggarwal
Abhay Aggarwal 3rd degree connection3rd
Media Monitoring, Public Relations, Digital Marketing, Content, Infographics, Video, Web and Mobile Apps Development
Toronto, Ontario, Canada Contact info

Press Monitor
500+ connections

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About
Nearly 24 years experience in dealing with senior executives and business leaders. Two decades experience involving application of mind and discretion.

Strong understanding of business issues at national and international level. Daily interaction with news over 24 years.

Ability to lead complex projects from concept to fully operational status. Have handled projects in the UK, India and working closely with the government of Seychelles.

Goal-oriented individual with strong leadership capabilities. Managing team of 60 people with very little staff turnover. Many employees have stayed for more than 10 years.

Ability to do business in an international environment cutting across geographies, ethnic backgrounds, and languages.

Specialties: Business representation in the UK, News Aggregation Services, Web-based application development

-------------


Abhay Aggarwal
Media Monitoring, Public Relations, Digital Marketing, Content, Infographics, Video, Web and Mobile Apps Development

More

Message

Abhay Aggarwal
Abhay Aggarwal 3rd degree connection3rd
Media Monitoring, Public Relations, Digital Marketing, Content, Infographics, Video, Web and Mobile Apps Development
Toronto, Ontario, Canada Contact info

Press Monitor
500+ connections

--
Nearly 24 years experience in dealing with senior executives and business leaders. Two decades experience involving application of mind and discretion.

Strong understanding of business issues at national and international level. Daily interaction with news over 24 years.

Ability to lead complex projects from concept to fully operational status. Have handled projects in the UK, India and working closely with the government of Seychelles.

Goal-oriented individual with strong leadership capabilities. Managing team of 60 people with very little staff turnover. Many employees have stayed for more than 10 years.

Ability to do business in an international environment cutting across geographies, ethnic backgrounds, and languages.

Specialties: Business representation in the UK, News Aggregation Services, Web-based application development

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan #Army Chief Gen Bajwa: “Our enemies are...using non-traditional means including propaganda and disinformation to achieve their nefarious objectives". We must deal “strictly with some internal elements spreading chaos.” #DefenceDay2021 #Disinfo https://www.newsweekpakistan.com/no-room-for-any-kind-of-extremism-in-pakistan-gen-bajwa/

“No individual or group will be allowed to blackmail the state on the basis of area, ethnicity, ideology or religion,” he said during an event commemorating Defense Day at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, adding that no individual or group aside from the armed forces and law-enforcement agencies would be allowed to display weapons or use them.

Urging the nation to unite to make Pakistan a “progressive, peaceful and a modern Islamic and welfare state,” he said the country’s strength and longevity lay with a democratic setup. “To make it more stable, we will have to follow the principles of following the Constitution, justice, tolerance and equality,” he said, adding that “negative attitudes like criticism for the sake of criticism, hatred and intolerance” should be discouraged.

“If Pakistan has to progress, we will have to bury our ego and self-interest … According to [former] U.S. president John F. Kennedy, ‘Do not ask what the country can do for you, ask what you can do for the country’,” he said. In light of the requirements of the 21st century, Gen. Bajwa said the state should strive for people’s progress and happiness, regional cooperation and acquiring modern technology instead of the negative traditional geopolitical thought against each other.” He said education, health, infrastructure development, population control and climate change should be national priorities.

The Pakistan Army chief also reiterated his concerns with the changing nature of warfare, stressing that modern technology and ways of communication had replaced large-scale conflict to weaken a nation’s unity and ideological boundaries, spread chaos in different sectors, and demoralize people. “Our enemies are also using non-traditional means including propaganda and disinformation to achieve their nefarious objectives,” he said, and warned that authorities also had to deal “strictly with some internal elements spreading chaos.”

Referring to hybrid, or fifth-generation, warfare, he said: “It is a moment of reflection for all of us that some people are being used by anti-state elements.” He warned that this was intended to “make Pakistan’s roots hollow and damage the country’s unity.” However, he added, such negative objectives would not be allowed to succeed.

Riaz Haq said…
#Indian news channels use Arma 3 gameplay footage to claim #Pakistan bombed #Panjshir #Afghanistan.
The footage first appeared on Indian news channels including Republic TV, Times Now Navbharat, Zee Hindustan, and TV9 Bharatvarsh. #fakenews | PC Gamer
https://www.pcgamer.com/arma-3-pakistan-footage/

It's easy to see how the deceptive edit was made. In Compared Comparison's YouTube video, zoomed-in shots of the attacking aircraft do look moderately convincing, at least until the video zooms out to show the digital anti-air vehicle firing and later blowing up in a not-so-realistic fashion.

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During Republic TV's broadcast, the anchor can be heard repeating the claim that the Pakistani airforce performed an airstrike in Panjshir. The claim was originally recognized as fraudulent by Boom, a group that calls itself India's "first and leading fact checking website and initiative," and is a member of the Poynter Institute's International Fact-Checking Network initiative.

Republic TV meanwhile has a sordid history of far right-wing reporting and supporting India's prime minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist policies, according to Aljazeera. Vikas Khanchandani, CEO of ARG (owner of Republic TV) was arrested in December 2020 for allegedly rigging ratings in order to charge advertisers more.



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In a bizarre development, some Indian news broadcasts claimed that the Pakistani airforce attacked the Panjshir valley, an Afghanistan mountain province home to about 170,000 people, which is currently the last major holdout of anti-Taliban forces.

The only problem? The footage used to report the supposedly pro-Taliban airforce attack came from the popular military simulation game Arma 3.

The footage first appeared on Indian news channels including Republic TV, Times Now Navbharat, Zee Hindustan, and TV9 Bharatvarsh. The original video was credited to a source called "Hasti TV" on Facebook, which has since been deleted. These Indian news sources claimed the video showed a military jet attempting a bombing run on Panjshir.

In fact, the footage came from this January Arma 3 video from the YouTube channel Compared Comparison, which has now been viewed 23 million times. The gameplay shows players engaging in a ground-to-air battle between a jet and a vehicle-mounted anti-air turret with tracer rounds seen firing through the sky at the jet.

In a statement to PC Gamer, a representative for Arma 3 developer Bohemia Interactive confirmed that the original footage does indeed come from the game.

"Strangely, we've seen this particular game footage be used several times by certain media outlets in support of their real-life news coverage," the Bohemia Interactive rep said. "We know this because we've been previously approached regarding similar occurrences by fact-checkers from organizations such as Agence France-Presse, Check Your Fact, PolitiFact, and if I remember correctly, also Reuters."

Bohemia Interactive added that the game footage used in the erroneous Indian news broadcasts may also have come from two other Arma 3 gameplay clips.

"The clip in the [original viral tweet] is so cropped and low-res that I find it hard to compare and say for sure which it is, but I'm confident it is Arma 3 footage," Bohemia Interactive's rep said.


Riaz Haq said…
F16 Shot Down? How #Indian #Media Again ‘Downed A #Pakistan #F16 Jet’ & Triggered A #SocialMedia Storm. Fact-checkers and independent journalists debunked the claim and said the image in question was a #US Airforce F-16 Fighting Falcon https://eurasiantimes.com/f-16-shot-down-how-indian-media-again-downed-a-pakistan-f-16-jet-triggered-a-social-media-storm/ via @THEEURASIATIMES


An image of a downed F-16 fighter aircraft had been repeatedly shown by a section of Indian TV news channels earlier this week, creating a social media storm.

The picture originated from an unverified Twitter handle claiming to be operated by Ahmad Massoud, the son of a legendary Afghan rebel commander, Ahmad Shah Massoud.

The viral tweet with the caption, “The Pakistani Jet Plane that was shot down by the lion cubs” gave the impression that the aircraft was shot down by the Afghan resistance fighters in Panjshir valley.

However, fact-checkers and independent journalists debunked the claim and said the image in question was a US Airforce F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Fact vs Fiction
A 2018 news report by the US-based publication Military Factory confirms that an F-16 had taken off from the Luke Airforce Base in Arizona following which it met with an accident near the Arizona-California border.

The report noted that the pilot had managed to eject in the nick of time and was stable. The jet in question was an F-16C assigned to the 56th Fighter Wing. It seemed the aircraft diverted from its predestined route as the pilot tried to land it inside the Lake Havasu Municipal Airport around 10:50 am local time.

Following the ejection, the pilot was rushed to the Havasu Regional Medical Center. Witnesses in proximity to the crash site posted pictures on social media. A Facebook group in particular called Air Force amn/nco/snco posted pictures of the crash.

Another F-16 operated by the 162nd Wing of the Air National Guard, which trained Iraqi pilots, had also crashed a year before this incident. This marked two F-16 crashes within a year.

The Fighting Falcon
America’s Vietnam debacle led policymakers in Washington to consider designing and developing a light fighter aircraft. USAF’s bulky F-4 Phantom delivered a lackluster performance against the North Vietnamese Airforce.

This led to some soul searching, which eventually resulted in the development of the F-16 Fighting Falcon by aerospace giant Lockheed Martin.

F-16s were USAF’s first multi-role jet and have been considered one of the most prolific fighter platforms in military aviation history. The service currently has a fleet of over 2,000 F-16s while another 2,500 are operational in 25 countries including Pakistan.

Colonel Vinay B Dalvi (Retd), author, former Associate Editor of the Fauji Magazine and Chief Editor of Mission Victory India told The EurAsian Time, “While I have never operated aircraft, which is obvious given my humble background as an infantry officer, I have spoken to numerous Indian Air Force officers and aviation veterans during the research of my books. What I have learned is that the F-16 is a highly potent aircraft platform and an excellent war machine.

“Veterans from military aviation circles have often lauded its aerial performance in conversations. Based on this input, I have been able to gauge that the F-16 is incredibly fast, has extreme levels of operational agility, and whatever its pitfalls get made up by its lower cost.”

The F-16 has earned the distinction of being one of the most sophisticated aircraft of its kind and has remained an economically viable option for air forces around the world.

While the F-16 falls short when it comes to range and payload capacities as compared to the specifications offered by twin-engine fighter jets like the F-15 Eagle, it is considered an acceptable tradeoff, given the aircraft’s economic viability which plays a crucial role in procurement.

Riaz Haq said…
Ex-Indian army officer shares picture from movie set as 'truth' about Pakistan Army's presence in Panjshir
Former Indian major general believes picture showing Pakistani actors Shaan Shahid and Umair Jaswal is of soldiers in Afghanistan.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1645991


A retired Indian army officer became the butt of a joke on Twitter after he mistook a photo from a Pakistani military-themed film as showing Pakistani soldiers who he falsely claimed were martyred in Afghanistan's Panjshir valley.

The apparent confusion started after another former Indian army officer, Maj Gen GD Bakshi, posted a tweet claiming that the Pakistan Army had "suffered very heavy casualties" in Panjshir, where the Taliban and resistance fighters engaged in heavy fighting earlier this month.

Without sharing any evidence, Bakhsi tweeted that dozens of Pakistani soldiers had lost their lives and many others were wounded while supporting the Taliban in Panjshir. He wrote that a certain "Maj Gen Adil Rehmani has come back to organise discreet funerals in [the] dead of night." Even though the account is not verified by Twitter, Bakshi's tweets have been carried by Indian media on multiple occasions in the past.

Bakshi, who had a long career in the Indian army and holds a PhD in military history, is known for peddling fake news and rhetoric on Indian TV. An article by Indian publication The Print last year referred to him as the "shrillest warmonger in the media".

Responding to his latest claims about Pakistani soldiers, a Pakistani account with the handle @Fauji_Doctor shared a picture from the set of the 2017 Pakistani movie *Yalghaar* — ostensibly to poke fun at the Indian ex-officer, and wrote: "My class fellow from school days Maj Aijaj 2nd from left and Capt Jufar 1st from left embraced martyrdom in Panjshir. They were buried yesterday in Peshawar. ISPR is trying to hide these casualties. They fought bravely and should be honoured as such. This is injustice by Pak Army."

In fact, the two uniformed men he referred to are renowned Pakistani actors Shaan Shahid and Umair Jaswal - neither of whom are members of the armed forces.

Unaware of this and apparently without having done any investigation, former Indian Maj Gen Harsha Kakar shared a screenshot of @Fauji_Doctor's reply to Bakshi as "the truth on #PanjshirValley and Pak casualties".

"As expected [National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf] lied and Pak disowned its dead," he alleged.

Pakistanis were amused by the Indian ex-officer's apparent naivete, with Shaan himself replying to Bakshi's original tweet with posters from Yalghaar. "Hello from the other side," he wrote with the pictures.


Jaswal too found the mix-up hilarious, responding to Bakshi with a picture of him in commando gear and writing: "Hello dear [laughing emoji] from Pakistan."

Jumping at the opportunity, other Pakistani users also shared spoof images of Pakistani actors in uniform to add to the joke.

Fake news about Pakistan's military involvement in Afghanistan surfaced as the Taliban said on Monday they had taken control of Panjshir province north of Kabul, the last holdout of anti-Taliban forces in the country and the only province the Taliban had not seized during their blitz across the country last month.

The anti-Taliban forces had been led by the former vice president, Amrullah Saleh, and Ahmad Massoud, whose father was killed just days before the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US.

With Taliban fighters advancing into Panjshir, Indian media outlets during the previous week ran unverified claims of Pakistan Air Force planes hovering over Panjshir valley and dropping bombs on resistance fighters in support of the Taliban.

Riaz Haq said…
Watch Indian fake news anchor Arnab Goswami claim that Pakistani Army officers retreating from Panjshir Valley are now on the 5th floor of the Serena Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Fact: There are only three floors, including ground floor, in Kabul Serena hotel building.

In 'The Debate' on Republic World TV last week, Goswami invited Indian analyst General G.D. Bakshi and PTI spokesperson Abdul Samad Yaqoob — to represent Pakistan.

Goswami to Yaqoob: "You go and check today ... on the fifth floor of the Serena Hotel, I am telling you, please check, fifth floor of the Serena Hotel in Kabul, how many Pakistani army officers are there?"

Yaqoob: " "What I got to know from my sources [is that] Serena has only two floors. There are no third, fourth or fifth floors."

https://youtu.be/9ZQ1NttzbZE
Riaz Haq said…
Maria Ressa interview: You can’t negotiate peace if you don’t agree on the factsInterview/ Maria Ressa, CEO, RapplerRiyad Mathew By Riyad Mathew

https://www.theweek.in/theweek/cover/2021/10/22/maria-ressa-interview-you-cant-negotiate-peace-if-you-dont-agree-on-the-facts.html

You said the media lost its gatekeeping powers to technology. How do you take back control and regain the trust of people?


The hard part for journalists is that that’s not within our control anymore. In this new world, you say a lie a million times, it’s a fact. In the old world, you say a lie ten times, journalists can catch up, facts can catch up. But when it’s a million times, exponentially pounded, we don’t stand a chance. If you don’t have facts, you can’t have truths. Without truth, you can’t have trust. The incentive schemes of the internet and social media don’t encourage facts and journalism. They encourage information operations. This is why it’s not a surprise that your government, my government, Russian disinformation, Iranian disinformation, Saudi Arabia… there have been many countries. Oxford University’s computational propaganda research project said, at the beginning of the year, that there are at least 81 countries where cheap armies on social media are rolling back democracy. Meaning, they are insidiously manipulating their people. In which democracy is that okay?


These tech platforms tell us, “Well if you don’t like it, mute it or block it.” Can you imagine a journalist saying that? If you don’t like a fact, ignore it, but the rest of the world can still see it. This is why our public sphere is so broken. The idea behind a tech platform is that we can all have our own realities. It's like we’re living in the matrix, or in our own illusions. This is what is tearing down democracy. You go to the Nobel Peace Prize; you can’t negotiate peace if you don’t agree on the facts, if you don’t agree on your shared reality. I’ll shut up, I think I’ve had too much Coke Zero.

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You mentioned how some journalists could have succumbed under pressure. For you, getting arrested made you a stronger person and more committed to the cause. In India, five years ago, there were 10.3 lakh journalists; today it has come down to 2.3 lakh. Around 70 per cent either lost their jobs or left the industry. What do you say to that section of disillusioned journalists?


This is a disruption of our industry. So here’s the biggest problem. To paraphrase the Nobel committee, they said freedom of expression is necessary for a democracy, [and that] the quality of journalists of a democracy is indicative of the quality of its democracy. (Sighs) the problem is, the business model of news has crumbled. And that goes hand in hand with the rise of the technology platforms, which are the very same places that are tearing down the credibility of news. It’s a virtuous horrendous cycle. Part of the reason journalists have been laid off globally is that news organisations have lost their revenue stream, the advertising revenue stream. And where did they flock to? They flocked to the technology platforms that have enabled the attacks against journalists. And yet, as the Nobel committee pointed out, you need journalists to get the facts, especially in conflict areas, especially when authoritarian governments growing into dictatorships, growing into fascism, need to be curbed. I go crazy when people call journalists content creators, because we’re not! It would be very easy to just create content. It isn’t easy to be a good journalist. To stake your life at times if you’re in a war zone, [to stake] your reputation when you’re challenging power. It isn’t easy to go up to somebody who has all the power in your world and demand answers. That takes courage. And that is the commodity that no one can really pay for. That is what the mission of journalism creates. So I worry… sorry, I’m hyper, I’ll tone it down (laughs).
Riaz Haq said…
Connect the Dots from Doval and Rawat to Arun Mishra and a Disturbing Picture Emerges
Not only these three statements, but several other actions by the highest in the land as also by the political leaders need to be put under the scanner.

By Admiral (retd) L. Ramdas, former chief of the Indian Navy.

https://thewire.in/government/constitutional-rights-ajit-doval-bipin-rawat-arun-mishra


The (Indian) NSA (Ajit Doval) is among those seen to be closest to the ‘Powers that Be’. While addressing IPS probationers at a passing out parade in the Police Academy at Hyderabad on November 11, he reportedly said that “the new frontier of war was civil society”, and equated this to the ” fourth generation warfare”. The freshly minted young police graduates are being openly told that since “civil society can be suborned, manipulated, subverted and divided and thus hurt the interests of the nation”, it is their duty to deal with them. He also implied that the ‘electoral process’ is not paramount, and what is important are the laws made by lawmakers which the police must enforce ruthlessly.

This sits uneasily in the context of the address from the NSA to police trainees when he openly suggests that civil society is the real threat and must be dealt with ‘ruthlessly’. Already we have seen sub-divisional magistrates telling the police to “break the heads of protesting farmers”. A recent report by the National Campaign Against Torture – a platform for NGOs working on torture in India – has highlighted how torture continues to remain a favoured tool in the hands of the police to extract information and confessions, or sometimes just to victimise oppressed sections of society.
Riaz Haq said…
#India using cyber-volunteers (#trolls) to silence critical voices. "Hindutva Watch" #Twitter account with nearly 26,000 followers was abruptly suspended in April this year with no reason given. #Modi #BJP #censorship #SocialMedia https://aje.io/n3ga7q via @AJEnglish

Government invites citizen volunteers to flag ‘unlawful’, ‘anti-national’ content as activists fear the creation of a surveillance state.


The group that ran the Hindutva Watch handle on Twitter – which flagged instances of violence and bigotry from Hindu nationalist groups – had long been accustomed to being abused and trolled for content critical of the Indian government.

But even they were stunned when the account, with nearly 26,000 followers, was abruptly suspended in April this year with no reason given.



The suspension of that, and dozens of accounts deemed to be critical of the government, came shortly after the launch of a cybercrime volunteers programme by India’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to report illegal or unlawful online content, Reuters news agency reported on Monday.

Citizen volunteers, or “good Samaritans”, are required to maintain “strict confidentiality”, and report child sex abuse material, as well as online content “disturbing public order” or religious harmony, and against India’s integrity, the MHA said, according to the report.

For activists, journalists and others critical of the government, it has become harder to distinguish between trolls, the governing Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) information technology cell and the cyber-volunteers – estimated to number in the hundreds.

“For us, Twitter was important to expose communalism, hate speech, fake news and pseudoscience spread by right-wing forces,” said a spokesperson for Hindutva Watch who asked not to be named for safety reasons.

“For this, we have been trolled, abused, threatened. The online vigilante machinery stalks accounts that are critical of the BJP or the RSS, labels them as anti-national, and lobbies to get them suspended,” the spokesperson said.

RSS refers to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the far-right ideological mentor of the BJP.

Complaints about posts are assessed under Twitter’s terms of service and Twitter rules, and “any content that is determined to be in violation is actioned in line with our range of enforcement options”, a spokesperson for Twitter said.

The MHA did not respond to calls and emails requesting comment.

Digital warriors
The BJP swept into power in India in 2014 and won by an even bigger margin in 2019, its victories credited to a large extent to its savvy IT cell and social media prowess, fuelled by thousands of supporters it calls digital “yodhas” or warriors.

Modi, 71, is known to be tech-savvy, with 73 million followers on his personal Twitter account, and follows several individuals who are known to harass those critical of his government, and who often say in their profile that they are “proud to be followed by Modi”.

“The cyber-volunteers programme goes beyond just silencing people,” said Swati Chaturvedi, an independent journalist who has written a book on the BJP’s social media strategy and her experience of being trolled.

“But it is actually a very smart move, as they can carry on browbeating dissent online without coming under more scrutiny themselves,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

More than half of India’s 1.3 billion population has access to the internet. The country has more than 300 million Facebook users and 200 million on Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service – more than any other democracy in the world.

About 22 million Indians use Twitter, according to Statista.

India, like other countries, has recently introduced laws to limit so-called misinformation and to censor content that is deemed to be critical of the government’s management of the coronavirus pandemic.
Riaz Haq said…
Prominent female #Indian journalists critical of #Modi government targeted by online scammers. Lured with fake job offers from #Harvard University in #Cambridge #Massachusetts. #BJP #Hindu #Hindutva #India https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/16/technology/harvard-job-scam-india.html?smid=tw-share

Nearly a year later, it is still uncertain why Ms. Razdan and the other women were targeted. Although the scammers expressed support online for the Hindu nationalist movement in India, they shed little light on their decision to trick reporters.

The perpetrators have successfully covered their tracks — at least, most of them. The New York Times reviewed private messages, emails and metadata the scammers sent to the women as well as archives of the scammers’ tweets and photos that the scammers claimed were of themselves. The Times also relied on analysis from researchers at Stanford University and the University of Toronto who study online abuse, and from a cybersecurity expert who examined Ms. Razdan’s computer.

The identities of the scammers remain a secret.

“It’s not like anything I’ve ever seen,” said Bill Marczak, a senior research fellow at Citizen Lab, an institute at the University of Toronto that investigates cyberattacks on journalists. “It’s a huge amount of effort and no payoff that we’ve identified.”

--------
One at a time, the scammers selected their prey.

The first known target: Rohini Singh, an outspoken female journalist who had broken some big stories that powerful men in India didn’t like.

Ms. Singh delivered a blockbuster article in 2017 about the business fortunes of the son of India’s current minister of home affairs. She is a freelance contributor to an online publication called The Wire that is among the most critical of the Hindu nationalist government in India. She has also amassed nearly 796,000 Twitter followers.


-------

The next target was another female journalist, Zainab Sikander. An up-and-coming political commentator, Ms. Sikander campaigns against discrimination toward Muslims, a growing problem under the Hindu nationalist government. She has also written and posted many critical observations of the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On Aug. 22, 2019, Ms. Sikander, too, received a Twitter message from Tauseef Ahmad, inviting her to participate in a high-powered media conference at Harvard. It was the same message sent to Ms. Singh, though neither woman knew the other had been targeted.

-----------

Just like in Ms. Singh’s case, Tauseef connected her to Alex Hirschman. What she didn’t know was that Alex and Tauseef were likely fake personas — a search of Harvard’s student directory showed no students by either name.

Ms. Sikander also didn’t know that Tauseef’s Twitter account was one of several online personas that were interlinked. Tauseef and Alex seemed so friendly, sending her compliments — and confirmations for the flights and hotels they claimed to have booked.

--------------
The next target was another female journalist working at a prominent Indian publication, who spoke with The Times on the condition that she was not identified. Suspicious about the scammer’s U.A.E. phone number, she quickly broke off contact too. But the scammers didn’t give up. By the time they communicated in November 2019 with Nighat Abbass, a spokeswoman for India’s ruling political party, known by its acronym, the B.J.P., they had copied email signatures from real Harvard employees and swiped official letterhead from the university’s website.
Riaz Haq said…
An investigation sheds light into #India’s PM #Modi’s machinery of online #hate and manipulation. #BJP uses #TekFog app to make hate-filled messages and anti-#Pakistan #fakenews go viral. #Hindutva #Islamophobia ⁦
@RanaAyyub
⁩ - The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/18/the-wire-sheds-light-on-india-tek-fog-hate-online/


------------

Tek Fog: An App With BJP Footprints for Cyber Troops to Automate Hate, Manipulate Trends

https://thewire.in/tekfog/en/1.html


The Wire investigates claims behind the use of ‘Tek Fog’, a highly sophisticated app used by online operatives to hijack major social media and encrypted messaging platforms and amplify right-wing propaganda to a domestic audience.


Over a series of tweets in April 2020, an anonymous Twitter account @Aarthisharma08 claiming to be a disgruntled employee of the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) Information Technology Cell (IT Cell) alleged the existence of a highly sophisticated and secret app called 'Tek Fog'. They claimed this app is used by political operatives affiliated with the ruling party to artificially inflate the popularity of the party, harass its critics and manipulate public perceptions at scale across major social media platforms.

The Twitter handle's mention of Tek Fog – a 'secret app' that they said was able to 'bypass reCaptcha codes' allowing fellow employees to 'auto-upload texts and hashtag Trends' – caught the attention of the authors of this piece, who reached out to the individual behind the account in order to investigate the existence of this hitherto unknown app.

Over subsequent conversations, the source claimed their daily job involved hijacking Twitter's 'trending' section with targeted hashtags, creating and managing multiple WhatsApp groups affiliated to the BJP and directing the online harassment of journalists critical of the BJP, all via the Tek Fog app.

The source went on to allege that they had decided to come forward after their supposed handler – Devang Dave, ex national social media and IT head, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (the youth-wing of the BJP) and current election manager for the party in Maharashtra – failed to deliver on a lucrative job offer promised in 2018 if the BJP was able to retain power in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Over the next two years, a process of correspondence followed where the team at The Wire set out to test what could and could not be verified in the allegations made by the whistleblower, in addition to investigating the broader implications of the existence of such an app on the public discourse and the sanctity of the country's democratic processes.

Each of the allegations made by the whistleblower were subjected to a process of independent verification through which the team sought to learn more about the different functionalities of the app, the identity of the app creators, its users and the organisations enabling its use. Via encrypted emails and online chat rooms, the individual behind the Twitter account sent several screencasts and screenshots demonstrating the app's features. The source also shared payslip and bank statements to establish their identity (on this condition that this not be made public) and that of their employers.

The source did not provide The Wire direct access to the Tek Fog app. They claimed that this was due to the presence of various security restrictions – including the requirement of three one-time passwords (OTPs) to login to the app dashboard and the use of a local firewall that prevents access outside of the facility. They were, however, able to connect us via email to a BJYM official who provided code scripts that helped the team identify the various external tools and services connecting to the secure server hosting the Tek Fog app. The same script also led The Wire's team to one of the servers hosting the app, allowing us to independently verify that the app was functional at the time of publication and was not just a prototype.
Riaz Haq said…
In addition to the primary evidence provided by the source, the team at The Wire also employed a wealth of open-source investigative techniques to conduct an extensive forensic analysis of the various social media assets provided by the source, and to corroborate the network infrastructure underpinning the use of the app. The team also interviewed other independent experts and current employees at the organisations implicated in the broader operation in a bid to glean more insight into the network.

Through this process, The Wire was able to build upon these first shreds of evidence and uncover a vast operation pointing towards the existence of a group of public and private actors working together to subvert public discourse in the world's largest democracy by driving inauthentic trends and hijacking conversations across almost all major social media platforms.

The screencasts and screenshots of Tek Fog provided by the source highlighted the various features of the app and helped the team gain further insight into the operational structure of the network of cyber troops using it on a daily basis to manipulate public discourse, harass and intimidate independent voices, and perpetuate a partisan information environment in India.

One of the primary functions of the app is to hijack the 'trending' section of Twitter and 'trend' on Facebook. This process uses the app's in-built automation features to 'auto-retweet' or 'auto-share' the tweets and posts of individuals or groups and spam existing hashtags by accounts controlled by the app operatives.

This feature is also used to amplify right-wing propaganda, exposing this content to a more diverse audience on the platform, making extremist narratives and political campaigns appear more popular than they actually are.

One of the hashtags – #CongressAgainstLabourers – was shared 3by the source at 8:25 pm IST on May 4, 2020, as part of a screenshot revealing their 'daily task' list for that day. According to the same screen, the source was tasked with making the hashtag appear in at least 55,000 tweets and reach the 'trending' section of the platform.

An analysis of the on-platform activity of the hashtag via Meltwater Explore, a social media analysis tool, revealed that the hashtag had first appeared two hours prior on Twitter, eventually peaking at around 9 pm, half an hour after the source had shared the screen. The trend went on to accumulate 57,000 mentions, surpassing their assigned goal by 2,000 tweets. Moreover, the screen also showed how the source had posted the hashtag using 1,700 accounts in the first two hours after 'activating' the task, a fact that was corroborated by this independent analysis with exactly 1,700 accounts posting the hashtag at around 6:30 pm IST.
Riaz Haq said…
Sharechat's Response

Your story seems to insinuate certain relationships between the creators of the alleged ‘Tek Fog’ application and Mohalla Tech Private Limited. These are completely incorrect and false, and no such relationships exist between us. We would like to reiterate in absolutely no uncertain terms that we are not aware of, nor have we assisted (financially or otherwise) at any point in time and in any manner, the group of persons related to this ‘Tek Fog’ application. Further, we have no relationship (currently or in the past) with Persistent Systems of any manner whatsoever.

In the interest of transparency, we would request that you share further details of the claims made by you in your article for our teams to investigate.

As a platform, we invest significantly in countering hate speech, misinformation and other forms of harmful content on our platform. This is an ongoing issue that social media platforms across the world are working to solve, and it is well known that such operators spread similar content across platforms as a part of their activities.

To address this specifically, we take the following measures:

We partner with multiple third party fact checkers including BoomLive, Factly, NewsChecker and others to help identify and tag misinformation on the platform in 12 Indic languages including Marathi and Hindi, that covers more than 98% of the content posted on the platform.
We have developed and incorporated technology based tools that help us flag and takedown such content on a regular basis.
Our users also actively participate in the process of content moderation by reporting content on the platform that may violate our rules.
We have large teams both internally and externally that aid us on content moderation and responding to these user reports.
In the month of November 2021 alone, we removed 7,037,688 pieces of content from our platform that were against our community standards. We also aggressively take actions against accounts and in many instances permanently ban user accounts that attempt to spam or otherwise misuse the platform in violation of our terms of service and community guidelines. In the month of November 2021 alone, we took action against 319,701 accounts on the platform.

We would urge you to refer to our monthly transparency reports available at https://help.sharechat.com/transparency-report for greater details.

We reiterate that our company has no connections with this application, persons or companies mentioned by you and such claims are unfounded.

Riaz Haq said…
#Indian "journalist" Barkha Dutt tells colleague Madhu Trehan how she self-censored while reporting from #Kargil in 1999. She self-censors "anything she saw that Indian #Army did" in #Indian Occupied #Kashmir "in the interest of national security". #media https://youtu.be/w4woLeBD3r4
Riaz Haq said…
Praveen Swami’s legacy of “sources” journalism

https://caravanmagazine.in/media/praveen-swami-india-pakistan-balakot-firstpost-journalism


By Praveen Donthi

In 2013, I reported for The Caravan on India’s compromised national security beat. I noted in the piece that reporting on the “natsec” beat in India has always been a murky business, centred on a transactional relationship between the reporters and their sources in the security establishments. The glamorous nature of natsec reporting also ensures that they keep their sources completely anonymous, and are rarely questioned by editors. These reporters rely heavily on leaks, and the price for access is publishing information without much regard for its provenance. The beneficiaries of these dynamics are India’s security establishment and its government, which, on matters of national security, prefer to function without public scrutiny and accountability.

Swami, whose work I analysed in the 2013 report, fits neatly into this pattern. “If there is one infallible indicator of what the top Indian intelligence agencies are thinking or cooking up, it is this: Praveen Swami’s articles,” a 2010 report by the Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association, a human-rights group, said.

Swami’s reports are based mostly on unnamed sources in intelligence agencies, and make big claims with recurring narrative patterns. I wrote in 2013 that his pieces often flaunted details that would have been difficult for any journalist to discover first-hand, all presented in neat, confident narratives. His work has since continued along similar lines. On 26 February, as the foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale announced that India had conducted an airstrike in Balakot, Firstpost had carried one of the first reports on the strikes. The article claimed that, “according to defence sources, IAF fighter jets not only targeted the JeM camp, but also Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen camps near Muzaffarabad.” These sources further claimed that there were six more targets “including Chakothi, Balakot and Muzaffarabad” and that five terror camps were also “targeted at Kangar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.” The article was attributed to “FP staff.”

A week after the government claimed Indian forces had carried out surgical strikes on terror-training camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on 29 September 2016, Swami wrote a story for The Indian Express, where he was Strategic and International Affairs editor at the time. The story claimed to include “information which the governments of India and Pakistan have not made public.” The article, however, only confirmed India’s claims of the strikes. Swami claimed in the report that he sent questions to five people, “using a commercially available encrypted chat system,” who visited the villages that were apparently attacked during the strikes and spoke to the residents. Swami described them as “eyewitnesses.”

One of the stories Firstpost published after the recent fracas was by Francesca Marino, an Italian journalist. Marino’s story claimed that 35 people were killed in the strikes and mentioned that “the eyewitnesses were contacted by this correspondent using encrypted communication.”

Swami’s 2016 Indian Express story included this bit about a vengeful sentiment among the ranks of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, following the surgical strikes:

Friday prayers at a Lashkar-affiliated mosque in Chalhana, another eyewitness said, ended with a cleric vowing to avenge the deaths of the men killed the previous day. “The Lashkar men gathered there were blaming the Pak Army for failing to defend the border”, he said in one message, “and saying they would soon give India an answer it would never forget”.

He authored a Firstpost story on 1 March this year, which spoke of a similar sentiment among the leadership of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, whose training camp is believed to be target of India’s recent Balakot strike:


Riaz Haq said…
RSF’s 2022 World Press Freedom Index : a new era of polarisation


https://rsf.org/en/rsfs-2022-world-press-freedom-index-new-era-polarisation


The invasion of Ukraine (106th) by Russia (155th) at the end of February reflects this process, as the physical conflict was preceded by a propaganda war. China (175th), one of the world’s most repressive autocratic regimes, uses its legislative arsenal to confine its population and cut it off from the rest of the world, especially the population of Hong Kong (148th), which has plummeted in the Index. Confrontation between “blocs” is growing, as seen between nationalist Narendra Modi’s India (150th) and Pakistan (157th). The lack of press freedom in the Middle East continues to impact the conflict between Israel (86th), Palestine (170th) and the Arab states.

Media polarisation is feeding and reinforcing internal social divisions in democratic societies such as the United States (42nd), despite president Joe Biden’s election. The increase in social and political tension is being fuelled by social media and new opinion media, especially in France (26th). The suppression of independent media is contributing to a sharp polarisation in “illiberal democracies” such as Poland (66th), where the authorities have consolidated their control over public broadcasting and their strategy of “re-Polonising” the privately-owned media.
Riaz Haq said…
#Google picks former #Modi think-tank official as #India policy head. Last year, #Meta Platforms Inc (#Facebook) hired Rajiv Aggarwal - who spent years working in India's federal and state governments. #BJP #Hindutva #SocialMedia https://www.reuters.com/world/india/google-picks-former-modi-think-tank-official-india-policy-head-source-2022-05-04/


NEW DELHI, May 4 (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google has hired a new public policy head in India, Archana Gulati, who previously worked at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's federal think-tank and the country's antitrust watchdog, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

A number of Indian government officials have been hired by Big Tech companies which are battling tighter data and privacy regulation, as well as competition law scrutiny, under Modi's federal government.


Gulati is a long-term Indian government employee, having worked until March 2021 as a joint secretary for digital communications at Modi's federal think tank, Niti Aayog, a body that is critical to government's policy making across sectors.

Before that, between 2014 and 2016, she worked as a senior official at India's antitrust body, the Competition Commission of India, according to her LinkedIn profile.



A Google India spokesperson confirmed the development to Reuters, but did not elaborate. Gulati did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The source declined to be named as the hiring decision was not public.

India's antitrust watchdog is currently looking into Google's business conduct in the market of smart TVs, its Android operating system as well as its in-app payments system.

Last year, Meta Platforms Inc (FB.O) hired Rajiv Aggarwal - who spent years working in India's federal and state governments - as its head of policy.


Another former Indian antitrust and federal government official, Anand Jha, in 2019 joined Walmart (WMT.N) as India public policy officer. He currently manages government relations for Blackstone in India.
Riaz Haq said…
Lok Sabha Speaker did not respond to panel’s request to allow Ms. Zhang to depose on poll manipulation
Facebook whistleblower Sophie Zhang is unlikely to depose before the Standing Committee on Communication and Information & Technology with no word from Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla's office granting or denying permission for her deposition.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/fb-whistleblower-not-to-depose-before-house-panel/article65341724.ece

On Wednesday, the panel held its last meeting on the subject of 'Safeguarding citizens’ rights and prevention of misuse of social/online news media platforms including special emphasis on women security in the digital space.” So far, the panel has met six-times on the issue speaking to both the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Facebook and other stakeholders.

Ms. Zhang, a data scientist worked at the Facebook between 2018 to 2020. She wanted to work in the team dealing with election-related platform abuse but was instead put on “site integrity fake engagement team” created to deal with bot accounts. While investigating these fake engagements, Ms. Zhang, unwittingly uncovered absuive political manipulation and opposition harassment networks in 25 countries including India.

Parliamentary rules
The committee chairperson Shashi Tharoor in a tweet on November 1, 2021 had said that he had sought permission from the Speaker to allow for Ms. Zhang’s deposition. Parliamentary rules do not allow for witnesses to participate in meetings via video-conferencing and testimony in person by witnesses from abroad requires the Speaker’s consent. The panel on November 30 had unanimously endorsed Mr. Tharoor’s decision to seek permission from Mr. Birla on the question of Ms. Zhang’s deposition.

At the committee’s last meeting, Mr. Tharoor according to the sources, informed members that no reply has been forthcoming from the Speaker’s office — niether have it granted nor denied permission for Ms. Zhang’s deposition. “It is very unfortunate, considering India is one of the worst victim of electoral manipulation done through Facebook and other social media sites, it would have been instructive to hear Ms. Zhang,” a committee member said.

Ms. Zhang had earlier shared a dossier with Mr. Tharoor, which was circulated among the members and will now be part of the evidence collected by the committee. In committee's last meeting, the Facebook officials had debunked all the claims made by Ms. Zhang saying that she did not have any direct knowledge or access on the processes on which she has comment
Riaz Haq said…
My Heart Belongs to Kashmir
An Analysis of a Pro-Indian Army Covert Influence Operation on Twitter


https://cyber.fsi.stanford.edu/io/news/india-twitter-takedown

On August 24, 2022, Twitter shared 15 datasets of information operations it identified and removed from the platform with researchers in the Twitter Moderation Research Consortium for independent analysis. One of these datasets included 1,198 accounts that tweeted about India and Pakistan. Twitter suspended the network for violating their Platform Manipulation and Spam Policy, and said that the presumptive country of origin was India. Our report builds on a report on this same network by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

The network tweeted primarily in English, but also in Hindi and Urdu. Accounts claimed to be proud Kashmiris and relatives of Indian soldiers. Tweets praised the Indian Army’s military successes and provision of services in India-administered Kashmir and criticized the militaries of China and Pakistan. Two accounts existed to target specific individuals who were perceived as enemies of the Indian government.

Twitter is not publicly attributing this network to any actor, and the open source evidence did not allow us to make any independent attribution. In the report, however, we highlight some noteworthy articles in the Indian press. These articles show that Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have previously temporarily suspended the official accounts for the Chinar Corps. The Chinar Corps is a branch of the Indian army that operates in Kashmir. One article, citing Army officials as its source, says that the Facebook and Instagram accounts were suspended for "coordinated inauthentic behavior." Our report also notes that the content of the Twitter network is consistent with the Chinar Corps’ objectives, praising the work of the Indian Army in India-occupied Kashmir, and that the official Chinar Corps Twitter account is one of the most mentioned or retweeted account in the network.
Riaz Haq said…
US report unearths Indian army propaganda campaign

The purpose of the Twitter accounts in the network was to praise the Indian Army for their "military successes" and "provision of humanitarian services in India-administered Kashmir".



https://twitter.com/stanfordio/status/1572627130449821697?s=20&t=pvTw90fcd7d848Nk8iWawQ



https://www.globalvillagespace.com/us-report-unearths-indian-army-propaganda-campaign/



Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) recently published a report analyzing a pro-Indian Army propaganda campaign on social media.

To clarify, the Stanford Internet Observatory is a program of the Cyber Policy Center which is a joint initiative of the Freeman Spogli Institute of International Studies and the prestigious Stanford Law School in the US.


The report titled “My Heart Belongs to Kashmir: An Analysis of a Pro-Indian Army Covert Influence Operation on Twitter” takes note of a Twitter network that was recently suspended and concludes that the network was consistent with the Chinar Corps.

To clarify, the Chinar Corps is a Corps of the Indian Army that is presently located in Srinagar and responsible for military operations in the Kashmir Valley. Chinar Corps also has social media accounts where it consistently promotes a positive image of the Indian Army despite its internationally recognized human rights violations in Kashmir. Moreover, the social media accounts of Chinar Corps were suspended and blocked for short periods of time on multiple occasions for “coordinated inauthentic activity”.

Last month, Twitter identified a network of over 1000 accounts that tweeted about India and Pakistan. Twitter suspended the network for violating its Platform Manipulation and Spam Policy and said that the presumptive country of origin was India.

Indian propaganda?
The SIO report notes that while the network was not attributed to any actor or organization, there were many similarities to the Chinar Corps.

“The content of the Twitter network is consistent with the Chinar Corps’ objectives, praising the work of the Indian Army in India-occupied Kashmir,” the SIO report states.

The network was made up of several Twitter accounts posing as fake Kashmiris with images taken from elsewhere on the internet, for instance, Getty Stock Images.

“Tweets tagging journalists aimed either to bring events to the attention of reporters or to bring the reporter to the attention of followers—often in an apparent attempt to target the reporter for what was framed as anti-India content,” the report further revealed.

Moreover, the purpose of the Twitter accounts in the network was to praise the Indian Army for their “military successes” and “provision of humanitarian services in India-administered Kashmir”. The accounts also criticized Pakistan and China who are rivals of India.

Riaz Haq said…
Pentagon Orders Review of Its Overseas Social Media Campaigns
The move comes after Twitter and Facebook shut down misleading accounts that they determined were sending messages to promote U.S. foreign policy.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/19/us/politics/pentagon-social-media.html

WASHINGTON — White House officials told the military that they were concerned about its efforts to spread pro-American messaging on social media, prompting the Pentagon to order a review of secretive operations to influence populations overseas, U.S. officials said.

The review follows a decision by Twitter and Facebook over the summer to shut down misleading accounts that they determined were sending messages about U.S. foreign policy interests abroad.

The Pentagon audit and White House concerns were first reported by The Washington Post.

Disinformation researchers said the campaigns largely fell into two camps. Most of the campaigns spread pro-American messages, including memes and slogans that praised the United States. Those programs were similar to how Beijing often spreads disinformation by seeding positive messages about life in China.

One campaign targeting Iran, however, spread divisive messages about life there. The accounts involved pushed out views that both supported and opposed the Iranian government. That disinformation effort resembled the methods used by Russia to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

For years U.S. military commands have promoted pro-American news and messages for audiences overseas, sometimes earning the scrutiny of Congress. But the decision by the social media companies to shut down some accounts associated with the military suggested that the activity had gone further.

Twitter and Meta, the parent company of Facebook, removed accounts that they said violated their terms of service by taking part in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

A report in August by Stanford University’s Internet Observatory and the social media analytics firm Graphika said those accounts were pushing pro-American messages in the Middle East and Central Asia. The two groups attributed some of the accounts taken down by Facebook and Twitter to the Trans-Regional Web Initiative, a more than 10-year-old Pentagon initiative that sends out information in support of the United States in areas where the U.S. military operates.

The postings varied widely in sophistication. Some of the more polished work was aimed at Twitter and Telegram users in Iran and pushed a wide variety of views. While most of the messages were critical of the Iranian government, researchers said others were supportive of it, the kind of activity that could potentially be designed to inflame debate and sow divisions in the country.

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