Thursday, November 14, 2019

Two of 265 India-Linked Anti-Pakistan Fake News Sites Located in Pakistan

Researchers at Europe's Disinfo Lab have uncovered a network of 265 online news sites in 65 countries, including Pakistan, using the names and brands of defunct newspapers from the 20th century to push anti-Pakistan media coverage inside the regular news cycle. Two of these sites are located in Pakistani cities of Karachi and Lahore, according to Disinfo Lab's report. They are linked to social media accounts.  These two sites were spewing disinformation on Pakistan using the names of the long defunct Socialist Weekly (Karachi) and Khalsa Akhbar (Lahore), according to Pakistani researchers.  The real Karachi-based Urdu language Socialist Weekly and Lahore-based Punjabi language Khalsa Akhbar ceased publishing decades ago, long before the advent of online publishing.

Two of 265 Anti-Pakistan Websites in Pakistan. Source: EU Disinfo Lab

The fake news sites were aimed at reinforcing the legitimacy of anti-Pakistan NGOs by providing linkable press materials to reinforce an anti-Pakistan agenda. Two of these anti-Pakistan NGOs named by Disinfo Lab are European Organization for Pakistani Minorities (EOPM), and Pakistani Women’s Human Rights Organization.

Anti-Pakistan Fake News Network Managed By Indians

EU DisinfoLab found that this anti-Pakistan campaign is managed by Indian stakeholders, with ties to a large network of think tanks, NGOs, and companies from the Srivastava Group. they also discovered that the IP address of the Srivastava Group is also home to the obscure online media “New Delhi Times” and the International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies (IINS), which are all based at the same address in New Delhi, India.

Here are some of EU Disinfo Lab findings from these anti-Pakistan websites:

1. Most of them are named after an extinct local newspaper or spoof real media outlets.

2. They republish content from several news agencies (KCNA, Voice of America, Interfax).

3. Coverage of the same Indian-related demonstrations and events;

4. Republications of anti-Pakistan content from the described Indian network (including EP Today, 4NewsAgency, Times Of Geneva, New Delhi Times).

5. Most websites have a Twitter account as well.

But why have they created these fake media outlets? Disinfo Lab's analysis of the content and how it is shared found several ostensible reason for it:

1. Influence international institutions and elected representatives with coverage of specific events and demonstrations.

2. Provide NGOs with useful press material to reinforce their credibility and thus be impactful.

3. Add several layers of media outlets that quote and republish one another, making it harder for the reader to trace the manipulation, and in turn (sometimes) offer a “mirage” of international support.

4. Influence public perceptions on Pakistan by multiplying iterations of the same content available on search engines.

EU Dininfo Lab has shown that India's disinformation campaign goes well beyond planted stories in Indian media; it extends across 65 countries, including Pakistan, with a network of 265 online news sites. It appears that Indian intelligence agencies have stepped up their 5th generation warfare against Pakistan.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

PTM: Lowdown on Manzoor Pashteen

East Pakistan "Genocide" Headline

Ex Indian Spy On RAW's Successes Against Pakistan

Free Speech: Myth or Reality?

Social Media Tribalism

Social Media: Blessing or Curse For Pakistan?

Planted Stories in Media

Indian BJP Troll Farm

Kulbhushan Jadhav Caught in Balochistan

The Story of Pakistan's M8 Motorway

Pakistan-China-Russia vs India-Japan-US

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel



43 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

We Can Make Any Message We Want Go Viral, Real or Fake, says #Modi’s crony #AmitShah . #BJP president Amit Shah boasted how the party workers were capable of spreading any message among people, regardless of whether it is ‘true or false’. #India #Hindutva

https://www.thequint.com/news/politics/amit-shah-real-fake-can-make-messages-viral

Addressing the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) social media volunteers in Kota, Rajasthan, BJP president Amit Shah boasted how the party workers were capable of spreading any message among people, regardless of whether it is ‘true or false’.

Boasting about the party’s WhatsApp group with over 32 lakh people, Shah recounted how a party worker sent out a fake message claiming Akhilesh Yadav had slapped father Mulayam Yadav. “There was no truth to this message, but it went viral,” he said, adding the caveat that he didn’t think this was the right approach, but reiterating that the party workers are “capable of delivering any message to the public.”

You can fast forward the video to 26:30 to listen to Shah’s exact words–

Hum jo chaahein woh sandesh janta tak pahuncha saktey hain, chaahe khatta ho ya meetha ho, sacha ho ya jhoota ho. Yeh kaam kar sakte hain, magar woh is liye ho paaya, hum 32 lakh WhatsApp ka ek group bana ke khade the. Tab jaakar yeh phelne ka kaam hua (We can spread any message we want, whether it is true false. We were able to do it because we have 32 lakh people on our WhatsApp group. This is how we make things go viral.)

Riaz Haq said...

Two #Indian citizens living in #Germany have been found guilty of spying on #Kashmiris and #Sikhs for #India's intelligence agency #RAW. #Modi #BJP #Hindutva https://p.dw.com/p/3UfRU?maca=en-Twitter-sharing Germany: Indian couple convicted of spying for Delhi

A German court on Thursday convicted an Indian married couple of spying on Kashmiri and Sikh groups in Germany on behalf of India's foreign intelligence service.

The court in Frankfurt found Manmohan S., 50, and his wife, Kanwal Jit K., 51, guilty of handing information on such groups to India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

Their last names are not given in accordance with German privacy laws.

Manmohan S. was handed a one-and-a-half-year suspended jail sentence for illegal espionage activities, while Kanwal Jit K. received a fine equivalent to 180 days of income for aiding and abetting such activities.

Separatism fears

The husband's espionage activities are said to have begun in January 2015, with his wife joining him in collecting intelligence from July 2017. The couple are reported to have received €7,200 ($7,974) from RAW for their services.

During the trial, the two eventually confessed to regular meetings with a RAW handling officer to hand over information.

Delhi has in the past expressed concern that Sikhs, particularly those living in the diaspora could harbor hostility to the Indian state. It is also worried that the Kashmiri separatist movement could be strengthened from abroad.

Germany has the third largest community of Sikhs in Europe after Britain and Italy, according to the German religious rights group REMID, with between 10,000 and 20,000 adherents of the religion living in the country.

Riaz Haq said...

#BJP resorts to #fake 'lonely woman' on Twitter to drum up support for #CAA. #AmitShah asking people to give missed calls to show support for the Citizenship Amendment Act — is now being shared by many Twitter accounts. #Modi #fakenews #Hindutva https://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/bjp-lonely-woman-twitter-caa-support_in_5e10660cc5b6b5a713ba970b?ncid=other_twitter_cooo9wqtham&utm_campaign=share_twitter


The Narendra Modi government has made clear that it won’t “budge an inch” on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) amid non-stop protests across the country against the discriminatory law.

The BJP has gone to many lengths to get support for the CAA, including getting Jaggi Vasudev, a self-styled guru, to speak for it and dismiss the protests. It has set up a phone number asking people to give missed calls to support the CAA. And now, several accounts on Twitter are sharing said phone number, pretending to be a lonely, bored women asking people to call the number. Yep, you read that right.

Not just that, there are other Twitter accounts that claim you will get a free Netflix subscription for 6 months if you call the number. There are others who are claiming pepple need to urgently call them on the number.

This BJP ploy, to “show” numbers in support of the CAA, was pointed out by Twitter user @samjawed65 who took screenshots of all the people claiming to be lonely and asking people to call this BJP number.

A quick look on Twitter reveals that this particular number has been tweeted out by top leaders of the BJP including Amit Shah and BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje. The Karnataka BJP Twitter handle also shared this number.


Riaz Haq said...

Farewell to #Pakistan's #socialmedia celebrity Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor
@peaceforchange. He sought to control the #narrative for the world's 6th largest army earning him grudging praise from his #Indian army counterpart Retd Gen Rajesh Pant. #warfare


https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-51148762#

It is not often a military spokesperson doubles as a national celebrity, about whom internet memes are made and whose name trends on Twitter.

But Pakistan's Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor is one such individual. As he leaves his post after three headline-grabbing years, praise and criticism have poured in in equal measure.

The transfer was expected but it came days after an unseemly social media spat with TV anchor Sana Bucha, which raised eyebrows about his conduct.

Skip Twitter post by @peaceforchange

Asif Ghafoor

@peaceforchange
Thanks for your love & support. Stay strong, continue doing your bit for Pakistan.Stay blessed
آپکی محبت اورحمایت کاشکریہ۔ مضبوط رہتے ہوۓ پاکستان کے لئے اپنا کام جاری رکھیں۔ Stay blessed.

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Skip Twitter post by @TalatHussain12

Syed Talat Hussain

@TalatHussain12
Removal of Gen Asif Ghafoor as DGISPR is an important step to refashion the Army’s image in COAS Bajwa’s second term. The x DG had turned ISPR into Ghafoor-PR with his frivolous pursuits, outlandish ideas, and obsessive self projection.

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His successor will find the departing director-general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) quite an act to follow. Gen Ghafoor's late-night musings on Twitter provided plenty of controversy and copious fodder for Pakistan's twitterati.

Subjects for discussion could appear random - he irked India by praising Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone for attending anti-government protests in Delhi. But he could just as easily post about burn ointment, butchers or stray dogs.

Combative tweets from his personal account in the past few days showed how he sought to control the narrative for the world's sixth largest army.

The general frequently sparred with retired Indian military officials or journalists on Twitter; at other times he would "troll" Pakistani journalists and individuals who criticised the country's military.

Earlier this week he locked horns with Sana Bucha after she tweeted criticising the military. Ms Bucha retaliated by reminding him "to show some class" but that was met with a thinly veiled warning that she should "make a choice".

Skip Twitter post by @sanabucha

Sana Bucha

@sanabucha
اپنے عہدے اور ادارے ، دونوں کا پاس رکھنے کے لئے شکریہ۔ @peaceforchange �� https://twitter.com/peaceforchange/status/1216658786007572481 …

Asif Ghafoor

@peaceforchange
Replying to @sanabucha
Not without a reason. I never initiated anything. Please see your unethical expressions which provoked response from me & fellow Pakistanis. I am deleting my yesterday’s responses only respecting journalistic ethos. You can make your choice for now & future. It’s two to tango.

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Riaz Haq said...

Yet another #socialmedia lie shared by #Modi's #Hindutva #Bhakts: Video of "failed" rocket test in #Pakistan! It is FALSE!! The video is in fact from #Russia, not Pakistan. #India #Propaganda https://www.hindustantimes.com/it-s-viral/fact-check-does-viral-video-show-failed-missile-test-in-pakistan-here-s-the-truth/story-N0wuvzx2EmofhB1gNlQ9TN.html

A dramatic video of a rocket bursting into flames moments after being launched is going viral on social media. People are sharing the clip with the claim that it shows an unsuccessful launch of Pakistan’s surface to surface short range ballistic missile Ghaznavi. The claim is false.

Many are sharing the same video with the exact caption on both Twitter and Facebook. Written in Hindi, the caption when translated reads, “13th test launch of Pakistan’s Ghaznavi missile failed. The missile that claims reaching the range of 300 kms fell down like burnt paper just at 36 kms.”

A search of the keyframes of the video revealed multiple links and most of them are shared back in 2013. One of the links, with the same video, was shared by the BBC. Turns out, the failed rocket test took place in Russia in 2013. It’s an unmanned Russian Proton-M rocket which crashed and burned after being launched at the Russian Baikonur facility in Kazakhstan. The same video reporting the incident was also shared on YouTube by The Telegraph.

Further, Inter Services Public Relations Directorate of Pakistan Armed Forces took to YouTube on January 23, 2020, to share a video of successful launch of Ghaznavi.

Riaz Haq said...

Tarek Fatah, the unrelenting #FakeNews peddler who targets #Indian #Muslims and #Pakistan regularly

POOJA CHAUDHURI 28 January, 2020 9:00 am IST

https://theprint.in/hoaxposed/tarek-fatah-the-unrelenting-fake-news-peddler-who-targets-indian-muslims-regularly/355214/

Tarak Fatah tweeted a video of Burqa-clad women dancing at a wedding, asking if it was from Shaheen Bagh. Fatah had tweeted the same video three years ago, twice.


prominent name on social media, Tarek Fatah is an active Twitter user with over 6 lakh followers. But on numerous occasions, the Pakistani-Canadian writer has been found circulating misinformation along communal lines, particularly targeting Indian Muslims. A matter of even more concern is Fatah’s failure to take down misleading tweets despite being made aware of the misinformation. In fact, in the latest spree, he took an extra effort to ensure that his followers remain misled.

Fatah tweeted a video of Burqa-clad persons dancing to a Bollywood number. He questioned – “Could someone confirm if this video is from the #CAA_NRCProtests at #ShaheenBagh or nor?” There are enough hints in the video which suggest that it does not represent protests at Shaheen Bagh against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The group is dancing around a woman dressed as a bride. Quite ironically, Fatah had tweeted the same video three years ago…twice. When he was slammed for the same, Fatah quietly took down his tweet from August 2017. However, he missed doing the same for the video tweeted earlier in May 2017.

1. Tweeted morphed image to claim Madrasa teacher portraying Islam superior to Hinduism
Last year in June, Tarek Fatah tweeted a photograph claiming that it depicts a madrasa teacher coaching his students that Islam is superior to Hinduism. He later took down the tweet, however, not before it drew numerous retweets.

The image tweeted by Fatah was morphed. In the original photograph, published by several media organisations including ANI, the blackboard has words written in Sanskrit. The teacher was giving the students a lesson on the language. Incidentally, this piece of misinformation had been debunked by Alt News just days before Fatah’s tweet.

2. False claim that a girl was assaulted for not wearing Hijab
Similar to the earlier misinformation, Fatah had claimed that a girl was hit on the head by a man who disapproved of her cycling without wearing a Hijab (archive).

Alt News found multiple Turkish reports which stated that the man had indeed assaulted the 9-year-old. However, none of the reports mentioned a lack of Hijab as the motive of the crime. The incident had gained much prominence in Turkey after the perpetrator was released from jail and referred to a mental health facility. Despite Fatah’s tweet being debunked two years ago, he is yet to take it down.

3. Tweeted video of Islamic flags being raised during Ramzan as Pakistani flags
In his latest bout, Fatah tweeted a video where bike-borne men can be seen waving green coloured flags. The Pakistani-Canadian writer claimed that the flags were of Pakistan and were raised during Ramzan in Tamil Nadu (archive).

However, the flags were not of Pakistani but were Islamic flags often used by the Muslim community in the sub-continent. Alt News’s detailed fact-check can be read here.

4. Tweeted old video to claim Muslims celebrated Congress’s victory by waving Pak flags
The “Pak flags” theory has been propagated by Fatah several times. Last year, after Congress won the assembly polls in Rajasthan, he claimed that the victory was celebrated by Muslims in the state by raising Pakistani flags. Fatah later deleted the tweet but an archived version can be accessed here.

The flags in the video were actually representative of the ‘Indian Union Muslim League’ and not Pakistan. Alt News’s fact-check can be read here.

Riaz Haq said...

Big #Tech's honeymoon with world's 2nd largest #internet #market is ending. Rules on local #data storage will hurt #India's tech growth. #Delhi's Current data protection legislation lacks people protection and gives govt a supra interest over everyone https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/india-internet-regulation-tech-industry/index.html

In the 2010s, India's internet exploded. More than half a billion Indians came online in the 10 years to September 2019, according to the latest government data, and the country now has twice as many internet users as the entire population of the United States.

And Big Tech rushed to cash in. Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter (TWTR) CEO Jack Dorsey both visited India and met the country's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as did Google (GOOGL) CEO Sundar Pichai and Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Satya Nadella, both of whom were born and grew up in India. Nadella and Amazon's Jeff Bezos both made their second visits to the country as tech CEOs earlier this year.
All those tech giants, along with others including Uber (UBER) and Netflix (NFLX), collectively invested billions in their Indian operations, rolling out several "India-first" features and local language versions of their platforms. More billions came from their Asian peers like SoftBank (SFTBF), Tencent (TCEHY), Bytedance and Alibaba (BABA) — mostly through investments in India's biggest startups.
But India is now making changes to the rules of operating in the country that could make the next decade much tougher for those global tech firms trying to profit from its massive market. A raft of regulations in the works will affect how companies — particularly foreign ones — collect and store data, sell products online and protect their users' privacy. With growing, government-backed internet shutdowns, their basic access to their users is being cut off in many parts of the country.

In perhaps a sign of the changing times, neither Bezos nor Nadella, the latter of whom recently criticized India's controversial citizenship bill, publicly met Modi during their visits this year.

With nearly 700 million internet users and almost an equal number of people yet to come online for the first time, India is too big a market to ignore. But the tightening of restrictions on foreign tech companies and government intervention in controlling the internet are sparking concerns that the world's largest democracy is becoming increasingly China-esque.
"A heavy-handed government that wishes to use technology to surveil its own citizens or control the narrative by curtailing their free speech and expression is not interested in using technology for the good but merely to control," says Mishi Choudhary, co-founder and legal director of New York-based tech advocacy group Software Freedom Law Center. "In such scenarios comparisons with the Chinese authoritarian internet are natural."
What India does next will likely have implications for the internet far beyond its own borders.
"India's potential and opportunity are undisputed, however its attempt to artificially ringfence itself from the global digital economy is concerning," says Jeff Paine, managing director of the Asia Internet Coalition, a tech industry group whose members include Google, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter. "We hope policy makers will take a holistic and long-term view."

Riaz Haq said...

Press Is Not Free Anymore in #Modi's #India. #Delhi pressurizes advertisers and shuts down TV channels to control and shape information citizens get. Apologetic calls from #advertisers have become so common that #NDTV executives are no longer surprised. https://nyti.ms/39yl1d3

The Media One anchorman Vinesh Kunhiraman went on air as usual on March 6, ready to tell the station’s five million viewers in India’s Kerala State about the death anniversary of a beloved comedian and the latest news on the coronavirus pandemic.

Just a few minutes into the broadcast, he saw the managing editor rush to the studio floor, gesturing wildly. “I realized something was not right,” Mr. Kunhiraman recalled.

The station’s uplink suddenly went dead. Mr. Kunhiraman’s image dissolved into a blue screen. A bland message told viewers there was no signal. “We regret the inconvenience,” it said.

But this was no technical difficulty. The station had been cut off by an order from India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The government decided to block the channel for 48 hours because it had covered February’s biggest news story — the mob attacks on Muslims in New Delhi that flared into broader unrest — in a way that seemed “critical toward Delhi Police and R.S.S.,” the order said.

The R.S.S. is a Hindu-nationalist social movement with close ties to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party.

“It was shocking the central government took such a decision,” said R. Subhash, an editor at Media One. “It was an attack on the freedom of the press.”

India’s free press has played a crucial role in protecting this country’s democracy since its independence from Britain in 1947. But journalists here now feel under attack.

Since Mr. Modi came to power in 2014, they say, his government has tried to control the country’s news media, especially the airwaves, like no other prime minister in decades. Mr. Modi has shrewdly cultivated the media to build a cult of personality that portrays him as the nation’s selfless savior.

At the same time, senior government officials have pressed news outlets — berating editors, cutting off advertising, ordering tax investigations — to ignore the uglier side of his party’s campaign to transform India from a tolerant, religiously diverse country into an assertively Hindu one.

With the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Modi has gotten more blatant in his attempt to control coverage and, as with other difficult stories, some Indian news executives seem willing to go along.

Right before he announced the world’s largest coronavirus lockdown, on 1.3 billion people, Mr. Modi met with top news executives and urged them to publish “inspiring and positive stories” about the government’s efforts. Then, after the lockdown stranded half a million migrant workers, with some dying along the highways, his lawyers persuaded the Supreme Court this week to order all media to “publish the official version” of coronavirus developments, although outlets are still allowed to carry independent reporting.

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

The shutdown of Media One and another Kerala television station, Asianet News, in March was a new twist. Both stations broadcast in Malayalam, a local language spoken by less than 3 percent of Indians. And both channels had aired witness accounts that echoed what many other outlets aired during the violence in Delhi: that the police had done little to stop Hindu mobs as they rampaged against Muslims.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's Foolish Editor Aarti Tikoo Singh's Makes Up #FakeNews Based on Satirical Report about #ImranKhan of #Pakistan https://tribune.com.pk/story/2216386/1-tribune-fact-check-pm-imran-says-covid-19-curve-flattening-reading-chart-upside/

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1258601641508511744?s=20

The Indian media thought they had pounced upon a ‘glaring error’ made by Prime Minister Imran Khan and went as far as rehashing a satirical piece to try to put words in his mouth.

The Pakistani premier is no stranger to a gaffe from time to time, however, in this case media outlets from neighbouring India were in for a ‘rude awakening’.

The Dependent, a satirical Pakistani website, published a piece here poking fun at PM Imran.

The article outlines how PM Imran addressed a press conference attended by leading journalists in which he claimed that the government had reached the ‘epidemiological holy grail’ of flattening the Covid-19 curve in the country.`

The curve refers to the projected number of new cases of the virus, that has brought the entire world to a standstill, over a period of time.

The article goes on to detail how the prime minister rails on about the ‘achievement’ before being told by one of his aides that he has been reading the chart upside down all along.

It soon began doing the rounds on social media and was picked up by Indian journalist Aarti Tikoo Singh, who literally took it at face value and was then published with her by-line for Indian news outlet Indo-Asian News Service.

Television personality and seasoned journalist Zarar Khuhro, also tweeted how the Indian media got it wrong and had unintentionally provided some comic relief in the process.

The article was also widely shared on Indian Twitter, with users of the micro-blogging site desperately attempting to troll PM Imran for his supposed mistake.

Riaz Haq said...

#Indian cyber firm spied on #politicians, #investors worldwide. BellTroX InfoTech Services targeted #government officials in #Europe, gambling tycoons in #Bahamas, and top investors in #US, including private equity giant KKR and short seller Muddy Waters.https://reut.rs/2XOt6HX

LONDON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A little-known Indian IT firm offered its hacking services to help clients spy on more than 10,000 email accounts over a period of seven years.

New Delhi-based BellTroX InfoTech Services targeted government officials in Europe, gambling tycoons in the Bahamas, and well-known investors in the United States including private equity giant KKR and short seller Muddy Waters, according to three former employees, outside researchers, and a trail of online evidence.

Aspects of BellTroX’s hacking spree aimed at American targets are currently under investigation by U.S. law enforcement, five people familiar with the matter told Reuters. The U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment.

Reuters does not know the identity of BellTroX’s clients. In a telephone interview, the company’s owner, Sumit Gupta, declined to disclose who had hired him and denied any wrongdoing.

Muddy Waters founder Carson Block said he was “disappointed, but not surprised, to learn that we were likely targeted for hacking by a client of BellTroX.” KKR declined to comment.

Researchers at internet watchdog group Citizen Lab, who spent more than two years mapping out the infrastructure used by the hackers, released a report here on Tuesday saying they had "high confidence" that BellTroX employees were behind the espionage campaign.

“This is one of the largest spy-for-hire operations ever exposed,” said Citizen Lab researcher John Scott-Railton.

Although they receive a fraction of the attention devoted to state-sponsored espionage groups or headline-grabbing heists, “cyber mercenary” services are widely used, he said. “Our investigation found that no sector is immune.”

A cache of data reviewed by Reuters provides insight into the operation, detailing tens of thousands of malicious messages designed to trick victims into giving up their passwords that were sent by BellTroX between 2013 and 2020. The data was supplied on condition of anonymity by online service providers used by the hackers after Reuters alerted the firms to unusual patterns of activity on their platforms.

The data is effectively a digital hit list showing who was targeted and when. Reuters validated the data by checking it against emails received by the targets.

On the list: judges in South Africa, politicians in Mexico, lawyers in France and environmental groups in the United States. These dozens of people, among the thousands targeted by BellTroX, did not respond to messages or declined comment.

Reuters was not able to establish how many of the hacking attempts were successful.

BellTroX’s Gupta was charged in a 2015 hacking case in which two U.S. private investigators admitted to paying him to hack the accounts of marketing executives. Gupta was declared a fugitive in 2017, although the U.S. Justice Department declined to comment on the current status of the case or whether an extradition request had been issued.

Riaz Haq said...

No wonder #Nepal cut off #India's channels that broadcast 24X7X365 false news and #Delhi's propaganda against neighbors! #Pakistan #China #Bhutan #SriLanka https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/indian-news-channels-face-a-broadcasting-ban-in-nepal/


The Multi-System Operators (MSO) have decided to stop the broadcast of Indian news channels in Nepal. The decision will come into effect, immediately, on Thursday.

According to the operators’ latest decision, viewers will not have access to any Indian news channels, except for the Indian state owned Doordarshan news.

While some cable operators implemented the ban immediately, the others are yet to follow suit.

The move comes in the wake of unfounded reports on Nepal carried by some of the Indian news channels, including their defamatory ‘shows’ on the Nepali Prime Minister along with the Chinese envoy.

Earlier today, the spokesperson of the ruling Nepal Communist Party, Narayan Kaji Shrestha had slammed the Indian media for their ‘nonsense’ reports on matters related to Nepal and the Nepali government.

These measures follow the events wherein an Indian news channel, Zee Hindustan, broadcasted an imaginative and defamatory programme linking PM Oli with Chinese ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi.

Riaz Haq said...

"RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations" by Yatish Yadav reveals #Indian #RAW "helped" a top #Afghan politician/warlord. #India carved #Bangladesh out of East #Pakistan. #RAW played double game in #SriLanka, "helping" govt & LTTE https://www.newindianexpress.com/magazine/2020/aug/02/raw-a-history-of-indias-covert-operations-showcases-indias-shadow-warriors-2176989.html via @NewIndianXpress

Set in the turbulent ’70s to the ’90s, R&AW spooks toppled dictators like General Ershad in Bangladesh and Fiji’s Colonel Rabuka by organising public protests and trading loyalties of people in their inner circles respectively. India had carved Bangladesh out of East Pakistan, which America opposed vehemently; President Richard Nixon even sent the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise to the Bay of Bengal to intimidate India.

After Mujibur Rahman’s assassination, the ISI and CIA moved into Bangladesh. The Hindu refugee problem was a strain on India’s economy and Ershad’s pro-ISI, pro-CIA stance wasn’t helping. So unexpected were the R&AW-engineered protests that Ershad was forced to resign and a neutral government came in his place. In Fiji, where local Indians were being persecuted by nationalist Rabuka, R&AW used foreign contacts in Australia, New Zealand and the UK to launch a successful operation to oust him. The mission was almost compromised when the mistress of a Fiji bureaucrat who was spying for India informed the authorities.

R&AW also created immense goodwill in many countries; it helped a top Afghan politician and former warlord to escape the Taliban and even got his relative a job in Turkey. R&AW spooks relentlessly bribed, cajoled and blackmailed India’s enemies. At great danger to himself, a daring agent bought information from a mole among Khalistani terrorists who were preparing to attack Delhi, which were averted by the intel. The agency even managed to recruit the prime minister of an important Baltic nation. R&AW had support from most prime ministers, except Pakistan-friendly Morarji Desai, who had dismantled foreign operations and turned over imbedded agents to ISI.

-------

In Sri Lanka, R&AW played a double game, helping the Sri Lankan Army to destroy the LTTE while protecting Indian assets against the Tigers and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s hit men. According to a R&AW spymaster in Colombo, MEA bungled and allowed the Chinese to get a foothold in the island.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate: “Facebook is replete with hate posts that continue to fester animosity. It is now clear that despite being reported by its own team, no action is taken” #Facebook #hate #BJP #Islam #Pakistan #socialmedia https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/india/row-over-wsj-report-facebook-issues-clarification-congress-reiterates-demand-for-jpc-probe

A day after US newspaper Wall Street Journal exposed how social media giant Facebook ignored hate speeches made by BJP leader, Facebook issued a clarification saying it does not discriminate on the basis of political ideology.


“We prohibit hate speech and content that incites violence and we enforce these policies globally without regard to anyone's political position or party affiliation. While we know there is more to do, we're making progress on enforcement and conducting regular audits of our process to ensure fairness and accuracy,” said Facebook.

In the report titled “Facebook Hate-Speech Rules Collide With Indian Politics -- Company executive opposed move to ban controversial politician”, the WSJ reported that Facebook looks the other way in cases of hate speech made by BJP leaders.


The WSJ also reported that a top level executive of Facebook’s India operations, Ankhi Das had said punishing violations by BJP workers “would damage the company’s business prospects in the country”.

Blaming Facebook for ‘destroying democracy in India’, Congress has however, reiterated its demand for a JPC probe.

“With all responsibility I will say that Facebook’s inaction destabilises our democracy. More often than not Facebook takes no action and even worse, allows objectionable content to continue despite being brought to notice,” said Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate.

Saying that “Facebook is replete with hate posts that continue to fester animosity”, Shrinate said, “It is now clear that despite being reported by its own team, no action is taken”.

Shrinate pointed out that Facbook India policy head Ankhi Das' links with the BJP and RSS affiliated ABVP go back a long way.

“Her identical twin sister Ms Rashmi Das was not just ABVP General Secretary at JNU but she continues to be an ABVP activist and was a prominent voice that supported violence on the campus,” she said.

Reiterating Congress’ demand for a JPC probe, Shrinate said, “We also expect Facebook global to look into discrepancies that exist in its India operations and we hope Facebook will take immediate remedial measures”.

Riaz Haq said...

Before #India’s elections in 2019, #Facebook took down inauthentic pages tied to #Pakistan’s military & #Indian Opposition Congress party, but it didn't remove #BJP accounts spewing anti-#Muslim #hate & #fakenews. Why? FB executive Ankhi Das intervened. https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-hate-speech-india-politics-muslim-hindu-modi-zuckerberg-11597423346

In 2017, Ms. Das wrote an essay, illustrated with Facebook’s thumbs-up logo, praising Mr. Modi. It was posted to his website and featured in his mobile app.

On her own Facebook page, Ms. Das shared a post from a former police official, who said he is Muslim, in which he called India’s Muslims traditionally a “degenerate community” for whom “Nothing except purity of religion and implementation of Shariah matter.”

---------

In Facebook posts and public appearances, Indian politician T. Raja Singh has said Rohingya Muslim immigrants should be shot, called Muslims traitors and threatened to raze mosques.

Facebook Inc. employees charged with policing the platform were watching. By March of this year, they concluded Mr. Singh not only had violated the company’s hate-speech rules but qualified as dangerous, a designation that takes into account a person’s off-platform activities, according to current and former Facebook employees familiar with the matter.

---

Yet Mr. Singh, a member of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party, is still active on Facebook and Instagram, where he has hundreds of thousands of followers. The company’s top public-policy executive in the country, Ankhi Das, opposed applying the hate-speech rules to Mr. Singh and at least three other Hindu nationalist individuals and groups flagged internally for promoting or participating in violence, said the current and former employees.

Ms. Das, whose job also includes lobbying India’s government on Facebook’s behalf, told staff members that punishing violations by politicians from Mr. Modi’s party would damage the company’s business prospects in the country, Facebook’s biggest global market by number of users, the current and former employees said.

---------------
India is a vital market for Facebook, which isn’t allowed to operate in China, the only other nation with more than one billion people. India has more Facebook and WhatsApp users than any other country, and Facebook has chosen it as the market in which to introduce payments, encryption and initiatives to tie its products together in new ways that Mr. Zuckerberg has said will occupy Facebook for the next decade. In April, Facebook said it would spend $5.7 billion on a new partnership with an Indian telecom operator to expand operations in the country—its biggest foreign investment.

-----------
Another BJP legislator, a member of Parliament named Anantkumar Hegde, has posted essays and cartoons to his Facebook page alleging that Muslims are spreading Covid-19 in the country in a conspiracy to wage “Corona Jihad.” Human-rights groups say such unfounded allegations, which violate Facebook’s hate speech rules barring direct attacks on people based on “protected characteristics” such as religion, are linked to attacks on Muslims in India, and have been designated as hate speech by Twitter Inc.

While Twitter has suspended Mr. Hegde’s account as a result of such posts, prompting him to call for an investigation of the company, Facebook took no action until the Journal sought comment from the company about his “Corona Jihad” posts. Facebook removed some of them on Thursday. Mr. Hegde didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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

Within hours of the videotaped message, which Mr. Mishra uploaded to Facebook, rioting broke out that left dozens of people dead. Most of the victims were Muslims, and some of their killings were organized via Facebook’s WhatsApp

Riaz Haq said...

Facebook Executive Supported India’s Modi, Disparaged Opposition in Internal Messages
Some employees said the sentiments and actions conflicted with the company’s longstanding neutrality pledge

https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-executive-supported-indias-modi-disparaged-opposition-in-internal-messages-11598809348

In one of the messages, Ankhi Das, head of public policy in the country, posted the day before Narendra Modi swept to victory in India’s 2014 national elections: “We lit a fire to his social media campaign and the rest is of course history.”

“It’s taken thirty years of grassroots work to rid India of state socialism finally,” Ms. Das wrote in a separate post on the defeat of the Indian National Congress party, praising Mr. Modi as the “strongman” who had broken the former ruling party’s hold. Ms. Das called Facebook’s top global elections official, Katie Harbath, her “longest fellow traveler” in the company’s work with his campaign. In a photo, Ms. Das stood, smiling, between Mr. Modi and Ms. Harbath.
---------

Ms. Das made her sentiments on the race clear. When a fellow staffer noted in response to one of her internal posts that the BJP’s primary opponent, the Indian National Congress, had a larger following on Facebook than Mr. Modi’s individual page, Ms. Das responded: “Don’t diminish him by comparing him with INC. Ah well—let my bias not show!!!”

Internally, Ms. Das presented the company’s work with the BJP as benefiting Facebook as well.

“We’ve been lobbying them for months to include many of our top priorities,” she said of the BJP’s official platform, noting that the document was littered with the word “technology” and appeared to embrace Facebook’s desire for an expanded but less heavily regulated internet. “Now they just need to go and win the elections,” she wrote.
----------


The (Ankhi Das) posts cover the years 2012 to 2014 and were made to a Facebook group designed for employees in India, though it was open to anyone in the company globally who wanted to join. Several hundred Facebook employees were members of the group during those years.

Ms. Das is already at the center of a political outcry in India over Facebook’s handling of hate speech on the platform, following a Journal article earlier this month. That article showed that Ms. Das earlier this year opposed moves to ban from the platform a politician from Mr. Modi’s party whose anti-Muslim comments violated Facebook’s rules.

From its earliest days when it morphed from a college social network into a global political force, Facebook has presented itself as a neutral platform that doesn’t favor any party or viewpoint. The company’s head of global affairs, Nick Clegg, has said the company’s role is to provide the court, not “pick up a racket and start playing.” Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly stressed his position that the company should remain politically neutral, including this year when he defended his decision not to act against provocative posts from President Trump.

Facebook on Tuesday said the posts by Ms. Das don’t show inappropriate bias.

“These posts are taken out of context and don’t represent the full scope of Facebook’s efforts to support the use of our platform by parties across the Indian political spectrum,” spokesman Andy Stone said.

Ms. Das didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment. She has apologized to colleagues for sharing a post described in the previous Journal article, in which she approvingly reposted an essay from a former Indian police official who said the country’s Muslims have historically been “a degenerate community.”

As in the U.S., Facebook’s India-based public policy team serves two functions. Staffers make and enforce the platform’s rules about what is and isn’t allowed to be posted, and they represent the company’s interests before governments. Critics both outside the company and inside have increasingly raised concerns about how those roles may conflict.

Riaz Haq said...

How to solve one billion complaints
The former head of Twitter India's news, politics, and government on the e-governance platform built for users and what he learned from it

https://restofworld.org/2020/raheel-khursheed-twitter-seva-india/

A former journalist for the local affiliate of CNN, Raheel Khursheed joined Twitter in 2014 as its first head of news, politics, and government in India. In 2016, he launched Twitter Seva, an e-governance platform that enabled Indian citizens to request assistance from government ministries through mentions on Twitter. Khursheed left Twitter in 2018 and has since co-founded a series of startups, including the video-streaming platform-as-a-service Laminar Global.

How do you solve a problem like one billion complaints?
Public systems in India are overstretched. Take the railway, for example, which carries more than 8 billion passengers a year. That scale often translates into apathy on the government’s end regarding any complaints about public services. It wasn’t as though the government didn’t have a complaint system earlier. But you would call a number, and that would fundamentally be the end of it. Who took your call, what happened to that call: nobody quite knew.

I saw that a lot of traditional hierarchies were flattening on Twitter: a lot of regular people tagging high powered ministers and getting almost immediate responses, which is rare in India. I was asking myself: Where can I go with this next? Twitter Seva, which means Twitter service, was the natural progression.

Our system brought the complaints under sunlight. When you put these complaints on our platform, they are public. If there is prominence attached to that complaint — if an editor, influencer, or the community has seen it — the imperative to respond is much higher. You get shamed if you don’t respond.

I remember an incident where a man was traveling on a train, and the air-conditioning was not working. When he told the staff, nobody listened. And then he tweeted, and within minutes, he had staff in the coach working to fix the problem. They even checked to see if he was satisfied with the outcome.

We built a framework of metrics. The focus suddenly went from how many followers to what your presence on your platform was worth. It was about how soon you could resolve an issue. We moved the product from a vanity metric to an impact metric.

It just takes one early adopter
The obvious challenge was getting the government to sign on. People didn’t immediately see the benefit of it. I had gone to the Mumbai police and the Delhi police repeatedly, and those conversations didn’t go anywhere.

So we started this experiment with the Bangalore police. We built this on the police commissioner being an early adopter of the platform, who was super sold on it. We convinced him that he could do a lot more with the platform, and that we could create a workflow to help. He generously opened up his organization for us to conduct this experiment.

We manually kept track of each of their Twitter mentions and assigned it to the relevant officer to resolve the issues tweeted. We eventually automated the process, and at its peak, the Bangalore police were addressing 500 tickets a day from Twitter.

Fundamentally, this created a virtuous circle, where we had government officers respond to complaints, and then immediately, people would praise them. It’s not as if people in government are doing their jobs and getting patted on their backs every day. It was a feedback loop — and the department got hooked on resolving issues even faster.

People thought, “If the railways can do it, then we can too.” Once they realized we had an actual workflow for them, it wasn’t a hard sell. By the time I left Twitter, we had rolled Twitter Seva out within at least 15 ministries.

Riaz Haq said...

41 rights groups from across the world write to #Facebook's Zuckerberg, demand Ankhi Das's removal from her role in the company “should the audit or investigation reinforce the details of The Wall Street Journal”. #Islamophobia #HateSpeech #Modi #BJP https://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/ankhi-das-facebook-india-audit_in_5f59cb06c5b67602f6009ad6?ncid=other_twitter_cooo9wqtham&utm_campaign=share_twitter

The audit had reportedly been triggered by Wall Street Journal reports which showed Das had “opposed applying hate-speech rules” to at least four individuals and groups linked with the BJP, saying it would hurt the company’s business prospects in India. Das also supported Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2014 Indian general elections and openly talked of efforts to help the BJP win, saying the company “lit a fire” to Modi’s social media campaign, WSJ had reported.

Buzzfeed’s Pranav Dixit reported that Das had last month apologised to employees in the company for sharing a post in 2019 which called India’s Muslims a “degenerate community”. The post had been shared at a time the country was witnessing widespread protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens.

The non-governmental rights organisations from across the world, who wrote to Zuckerberg on Wednesday, demanded that Ankhi Das be removed from her role in the company “should the audit or investigation reinforce the details of The Wall Street Journal”.

Their letter said that the audit of Facebook India “must be removed entirely from the influence of the India office and jointly overseen by Menlo Park staff and civil society groups with expertise in Caste and Religious Bias.”

Time Magazine, which first reported on the audit in August, had said it was being conducted by the US law firm Foley Hoag and would include interviews with senior Facebook staff and members of civil society in India.

Signatories to the letter said that “mass riots in India spurred on by content posted on Facebook have been occurring for at least seven years.”

“A mislabeled video on social media was instrumental in stoking the horrific 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots in which 62 people were killed. A BJP politician was even arrested for sharing the video. This should have been enough to prompt Mr. Zuckerberg and Facebook to take a step back from operations and conduct a human rights audit to ensure Facebook had the necessary corporate competencies and had taken human rights into account. Despite all this, the company decided to expand in India without hesitation. ”

The letter cited international watchdogs and academics, saying “circumstances in India show the potential for genocide.”

“Mr. Zuckerberg, when you said “never again” after Myanmar, did you actually mean “Over and over again?” Myanmar is not an aberration. We are seeing the same playbook that was used to incite genocide in Rwanda in 1994 playing out in India. Then, radio broadcasts from government radio stations spread misinformation that helped incite ordinary citizens to take part in the massacres of their neighbors. Now, instead of radio stations, events like the North East Delhi pogrom are stoked by misinformation and hate speech shared on Facebook.”

The signatories asked for Facebook to work with civil society groups and human rights activists in India.

Facebook executives in India were questioned by an Indian Parliamentary panel led by Shashi Tharoor last week.

Both BJP and Congress members of the panel accused the social media giant of colluding and influencing opinion, a charge denied by the company.

---

A Delhi legislative assembly committee on peace and harmony found Facebook “prima facie guilty of a role” in the Delhi riots in February, panel chief Raghav Chadha had said late August, adding that the company should be treated as co-accused in the case.

Riaz Haq said...

“I Have Blood On My Hands”: A Whistleblower Data Scientist Says #Facebook Ignored Global #Political Manipulation. #Myanmar #Rohingya #India #Muslims #Hate #Islamophobia

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/craigsilverman/facebook-ignore-political-manipulation-whistleblower-memo

Facebook ignored or was slow to act on evidence that fake accounts on its platform have been undermining elections and political affairs around the world, according to an explosive memo sent by a recently fired Facebook employee and obtained by BuzzFeed News.

The 6,600-word memo, written by former Facebook data scientist Sophie Zhang, is filled with concrete examples of heads of government and political parties in Azerbaijan and Honduras using fake accounts or misrepresenting themselves to sway public opinion. In countries including India, Ukraine, Spain, Brazil, Bolivia, and Ecuador, she found evidence of coordinated campaigns of varying sizes to boost or hinder political candidates or outcomes, though she did not always conclude who was behind them.

“In the three years I’ve spent at Facebook, I’ve found multiple blatant attempts by foreign national governments to abuse our platform on vast scales to mislead their own citizenry, and caused international news on multiple occasions,” wrote Zhang, who declined to talk to BuzzFeed News. Her LinkedIn profile said she “worked as the data scientist for the Facebook Site Integrity fake engagement team” and dealt with “bots influencing elections and the like.”

“I have personally made decisions that affected national presidents without oversight, and taken action to enforce against so many prominent politicians globally that I’ve lost count,” she wrote.

The memo is a damning account of Facebook’s failures. It’s the story of Facebook abdicating responsibility for malign activities on its platform that could affect the political fate of nations outside the United States or Western Europe. It's also the story of a junior employee wielding extraordinary moderation powers that affected millions of people without any real institutional support, and the personal torment that followed.

“I know that I have blood on my hands by now,” Zhang wrote.

These are some of the biggest revelations in Zhang’s memo:

It took Facebook’s leaders nine months to act on a coordinated campaign “that used thousands of inauthentic assets to boost President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras on a massive scale to mislead the Honduran people.” Two weeks after Facebook took action against the perpetrators in July, they returned, leading to a game of “whack-a-mole” between Zhang and the operatives behind the fake accounts, which are still active.
In Azerbaijan, Zhang discovered the ruling political party “utilized thousands of inauthentic assets... to harass the opposition en masse.” Facebook began looking into the issue a year after Zhang reported it. The investigation is ongoing.
Zhang and her colleagues removed “10.5 million fake reactions and fans from high-profile politicians in Brazil and the US in the 2018 elections.”
In February 2019, a NATO researcher informed Facebook that "he’d obtained Russian inauthentic activity on a high-profile U.S. political figure that we didn’t catch." Zhang removed the activity, “dousing the immediate fire,” she wrote.
In Ukraine, Zhang “found inauthentic scripted activity” supporting both former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a pro–European Union politician and former presidential candidate, as well as Volodymyr Groysman, a former prime minister and ally of former president Petro Poroshenko. “Volodymyr Zelensky and his faction was the only major group not affected,” Zhang said of the current Ukrainian president.
Zhang discovered inauthentic activity — a Facebook term for engagement from bot accounts and coordinated manual accounts— in Bolivia and Ecuador but chose “not to prioritize it,” due to her workload. The amount of power she had as a mid-level employee to make decisions about a country’s political outcomes took a toll on her health.

Riaz Haq said...

Reported by #Indian #media, the biggest purveyor of #fakewnews about #Pakistan:" 'Civil-War' Like Situation in Karachi After Clashes Between Sindh Police & Pakistan Army Over Kidnapping Rumours of Police Chief" via @indiacom #India #Modi #BJP #Karachi https://www.india.com/news/world/civil-war-like-situation-in-karachi-after-clashes-between-sindh-police-pakistan-army-over-kidnapping-rumours-of-police-chief-4179959/

According to information posted by The International Herald on Twitter, 10 Karachi police officers died in clashes that broke out in the Pakistan city. It also claimed that a ‘civil war’ has broken out following clashes between Sindh police and the Army. The report cannot be immediately confirmed.

Riaz Haq said...

Express Tribune Fact Check: #Indian media manufactures 'Karachi civil war'. The viral footage and fake news stories another attempt by Indian media to spread #disinformation, #FakeNews. #India #Modi #Media #Karachi #Pakistan #CivilWarInPakistan https://tribune.com.pk/story/2269343/tribune-fact-check-indian-media-manufactures-karachi-civil-war

Viral footage and news stories were widely shared by the Indian media purportedly showing a civil war like situation in Karachi between the army and Sindh’s police force.

The Express Tribune analysed the footage and found it to be fake as the Indian media was quick to peddle its propaganda about the situation on the ground in the coastal city.

The International Herald, an Indian news outlet on Twitter claimed that 10 police officers in Karachi were killed in clashes between the Sindh Police and Rangers as a civil war had supposedly broken out.

They went as far as to link the Maskan Chowrangi blast in Karachi, which is believed to have been caused by a gas leakage, to ‘unrest’ in the city.

It was also falsely reported that police and Rangers, who reached the scene for rescue efforts and to cordon off the area, began fighting amongst each other.

Anchors pushed the narrative even further as they had segments on talk shows discussing how the Pakistan Army had supposedly taken control of all police stations in the city.

When The Express Tribune asked Sindh Police officials about the veracity of the claims, it was vehemently denied

Riaz Haq said...

#India buzzes with fake news of 'civil war' in #Karachi #Pakistan. 'Fighting' in "Gulshan e Bagh area", a place that doesn't exist. #CivilWarInKarachi #FakeNews https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-54649302

Fake news has been widely circulating on Indian sites and social media this week, claiming a civil war had broken out in the Pakistani city of Karachi.

----

A fake video circulating on Twitter even claimed to show some of the alleged unrest.

In reality, none of it was true.

----


But what's notable this time is the number of verified accounts and apparently reputable news outlets that ended up putting out news that was utterly false, to millions of followers and readers.

'Fighting' in a place that doesn't exist
Tempers seemed to be simmering down when Pakistan's army chief ordered an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the arrest on Tuesday of Safdar Awan, the son-in-law of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

A day earlier there had been a major rally against the government of Pakistan's current Prime Minister Imran Khan in Karachi, an opposition stronghold which is the capital of Sindh province.

But later on Tuesday night a hitherto unknown account tweeted that a fight between troops and police had broken out, with tanks on the streets of Karachi and at least five casualties.

It's unclear who sent this initial tweet. Despite extensive digging by the BBC, it was not possible to establish who operates the Twitter account named @drapr007.

An hour later, the account tweeted again, this time saying: "#BREAKING: Heavy firefight between Pak Army and Sindh Police is going on in Gulshan e Bagh area of #Karachi..."

Those familiar with Karachi would know there is no area there by that name - but most readers would not.

Nor had there been any fighting, or tanks seen on the streets.

---
One user with a verified account, Prashant Patel - whose bio says is an advocate of the Supreme Court of India - went on to put out a series of tweets where he made claims about a "civil war situation" in Karachi, deaths of policemen and soldiers, Prime Minister Imran Khan ordering patriotic songs to be played on the radio, and even the impending arrival of the US Navy in the port of Karachi.

The BBC's Reality Check team looked into some of the accounts and websites - some of them impersonating the Sindh police - which have been spreading false news about the situation in Karachi and found them to have links with India.

Video purporting to show the clashes was shared by an account under the name of International Herald.

The dark and blurry video shows young men walking towards a building with fire visible to one side. They are seen throwing stones and shouting slogans, seemingly against Pakistan's army chief. The BBC was unable to tell if the video had been doctored, or even shot in Pakistan at all.

International Herald was registered under a now-defunct Indian company in 2018. It's had a Twitter account since 2015 which does not follow anyone. Its followers include two leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India.

'Co-ordinated disinformation'
Mainstream Pakistani media outlets were quick to challenge the Indian media claims with fact-checks.

And Twitter users in Pakistan have had a field day ridiculing the reports, using hashtags such as "CivilwarKarachi", "fakenews" and "Indianmedia" trending on Twitter along with humorous posts and memes.

Renowned singer and actor Fakhr-e-Alam tweeted: "Karachi civil war has gotten so bad that my food panda delivery boy had to crawl through mine fields carrying his AK47, RPG & 9mm along with my nihari and Biryani. This thing is getting so serious."

Writer Bina Shah said: "I live in Karachi, where I just did my groceries, visited the bakery, bought some clothes and came home. If there's a civil war out there I couldn't find it."

Riaz Haq said...

New pro-#India #EU website enrolling MEPs campaigns against #Pakistan. Anti-Pakistan, anti-#China #fakenews, #disinformation published on the website is then reused by the Indian news agency ANI & hundreds of other domains around the world. #Modi #BJP https://www.politico.eu/article/india-pakistan-website-european-parliament-campaign-eu-chronicle-china/

Op-ed articles falsely attributed to their authors, some of them European lawmakers. Journalists who seem not to exist. Anti-Pakistan content ripped from other websites and repackaged to be read by hundreds of millions in India.

All of it, seemingly out of an office park in Ghent.

EU Chronicle, a website claiming to deliver "news from the European Union," is the newest iteration of an influence campaign run by an Indian organization called the Srivastava Group, according to research by NGO EU DisinfoLab shared with POLITICO.

The purpose of the website appears to be to further Indian interests and malign New Delhi's rivals including Pakistan and China.

The anti-Pakistan, anti-China content published on the website is often reused by the Indian news agency ANI and hundreds of other domains, including outlets such as the Sierra Leone Times or TajikistanNews.net. According to EU DisinfoLab research, Indian business magazine BW Business World published at least eight clips from ANI that were based on EU Chronicle material.

While sometimes relying on MEPs for content, EU Chronicle's main target audience is not the Brussels crowd, the research shows. It's mainly a feeder for mainstream Indian publications that pick up the news accessed by hundreds of millions in India.

Some of the EU lawmakers featured on the website denied having written op-eds published in their name. Others said they were happy to have a platform where they can broadcast their sympathies for the Indian government.

In addition to EU Chronicle, EU DisinfoLab said the Group coordinates a number of organizations fronting as NGOs also working to wield influence in the Parliament. These include the Women's Economic and Social Think Tank (WESTT), the South Asia Democracy Forum and Friends of Gilgit-Baltistan.

"What we learned in this investigation is that it is possible to turn EU Institutions into unwitting actors of a 15-year influence operation. With lobbying and fake media, Indian Chronicles [the name DisinfoLab has given to the operation] has been successful in building a strong sense of a constant official support of the EU to Indian interests, reaching millions in South-Asia," said Gary Machado, EU DisinfoLab's managing director.


He explained how the website works to distort content. For example, a pro-Indian comment spoken in a personal capacity by a single MEP is modified to sound like the official voice of the whole Parliament. "When dozens of Indian media write that 'EU backs India's surgical strikes' based on a single MEP position, we believe it should not be neglected simply because the disinformation takes place far away from the European Union," Machado said, referring to military action India took against Pakistan last year, and which did not receive the EU's blessing.

Riaz Haq said...

EU Disinfo Lab discovers massive 15-year long #fakenews influence op by #India against #Pakistan. It is still going on. https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1336865077626953732?s=20


https://www.disinfo.eu/publications/indian-chronicles-deep-dive-into-a-15-year-operation-targeting-the-eu-and-un-to-serve-indian-interests/

-----------

The dead professor and the vast pro-India disinformation campaign


https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-55232432

The network was designed primarily to "discredit Pakistan internationally" and influence decision-making at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and European Parliament, EU DisinfoLab said.

EU DisinfoLab partially exposed the network last year but now says the operation is much larger and more resilient than it first suspected.

A dead professor and numerous defunct organisations were resurrected and used alongside at least 750 fake media outlets in a vast 15-year global disinformation campaign to serve Indian interests, a new investigation has revealed.

The man whose identity was stolen was regarded as one of the founding fathers of international human rights law, who died aged 92 in 2006.

"It is the largest network we have exposed," said Alexandre Alaphilippe, executive director of EU DisinfoLab, which undertook the investigation and published an extensive report on Wednesday.


Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan basher Tarek Fatah has been published by #NewDelhi #India based Srivastava Group named as owner/manager of hundreds of #fakenews sites in #EUDisinfoLab investigative report. Fatah says he paid him a "small fee" but declined to specify how much. https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/india-fake-news-sites-canada-1.5366591

Several Indian journalists from fact-checking outlets contacted by CBC/Radio-Canada said they had never heard of the New Delhi Times before the controversy over the Kashmir visit erupted.

Schofield said that India's rivalry with Pakistan is at the centre of its foreign policy and the visit was part of its propaganda effort. "It is viable as a technique against Pakistan. If Pakistan wasn't there, India would dominate the sub-continent."

Srivastava has also republished columns from Toronto Sun columnist Tarek Fatah, who describes the two as friends, and also has links to former Liberal MP Mario Silva; the IP address used to register the website of a think-tank that was chaired by Silva is the same as that of the Srivastava group, and the site is hosted on a server administered by Srivastava.

CBC News reached out to Srivastava at multiple phone numbers, and in all cases, the person who answered the phone referred inquiries to an email address. Srivastava did not respond to multiple email inquiries.

Over the past week, Twitter has suspended several accounts linked to the network, including the accounts for EP Today, a purported news magazine centred on the European Parliament, and 4news Agency, a newswire service which served to boost the network's content. Both these sites were used to push pro-India news items.

--------

At least 12 of those sites pose as Canadian news outlets and use names that either mimic current media publications or old media outlets that have folded, such as The Toronto Evening Telegram. CBC has also found evidence of a further 16 sites designed to look like local Canadian news websites, all registered by the Srivastava Group.

Some of the sites have either been taken down in the last week, since some of the EU DisinfoLab's findings have been reported, or never had content uploaded to them in the first place.

All of the sites are tied to the Srivastava Group, an Indian corporation run by Ankit Srivastava, a self-described entrepreneur based in New Delhi. CBC was able to determine using website data analysis tool DomainTools. Some of the websites were registered to a bungalow in Edmonton.

The network of sites publishes content that is critical of Pakistan.

News sites with Canadian names but little activity
The purported Canadian news sites run by the network have names like the Toronto Mail, the Quebec Telegraph and the Times of New Brunswick. Many borrow the names of defunct Canadian newspapers. In all cases, the "about" section claims that the websites are local Canadian media outlets.

Most of the Canadian websites in the network have generated very little activity on social media, garnering almost no likes and shares, according to social media analytics tool BuzzSumo. Unlike many fake news networks, the sites don't seem to make money through advertising since they don't carry ads.

Alexandre Alaphilippe, executive director of the EU DisinfoLab, notes that parts of this network have been active since 2010. "It's a network that has been operating for a very long time on these questions, promoting India or denigrating Pakistan," he said. "It's not only fake media sites. They have think-tanks, NGOs and so on. It's very organized. It shows that this is something that is planned."

Controversial visit to Kashmir
The Srivastava Group was also linked to a controversial visit by right-wing members of European Parliament to Kashmir in late October, which included a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Riaz Haq said...

Husain Haqqani's SAATH Forum linked to EFSAS #NGO.
#EUDisinfoLab has found that EFSAS is spreading #Indian-sponsored #disinformation against #Pakistan. Husain Haqqani's Photo with EFSAS's Yoana Barakova https://www.efsas.org/events/conferences/saath-forum,-london-october-2017/

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1337070565878689792?s=20

SAATH Forum, London October 2017: ‘Pakistan: The Way Forward’
October 2017, London
Ms. Yoana Barakova (Research Analyst EFSAS) represented the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) during an international conference on South Asia in general and Pakistan in particular, held in London. Several prominent liberal, progressive and nationalist intellectuals, human rights and social media activists and public figures from Pakistan and other countries around the world gathered in London for the conference, ‘Pakistan: The Way Forward’, organised under the banner of South Asians Against Terrorism and for Human Rights (SAATH), co-hosted by US-based columnist Dr. Mohammad Taqi and former Pakistan Ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani.

Riaz Haq said...

Tweet by American analyst Michael Kugelman on India's disinformation campaign against Pakistan:

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.


https://twitter.com/MichaelKugelman/status/1337076216004833281?s=20



https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1337151564926963712?s=20

Riaz Haq said...

Tweet by Malik Khurram Dehwar:

The
@DisinfoEU
report #IndianLeaks specifically mentions this interview of yours given to ANI linked to Indian deep state, where you’re seen defending propaganda posters in Geneva propagating
“FreeBalochistan”“PashtunGenocide”
&
“Sindhudesh” by Srivastava Group.


https://twitter.com/KhurramDehwar/status/1337292637402001408?s=20
--------

Page 49 of the #IndianLeaks report by EuDisinfoLab mentions you Hussain Haqqani giving this interview to the Indian propaganda news agency ANI, anti Pakistan propaganda posters in Geneva Switzerland during the UNHRC meet:

Full Report link here:

https://disinfo.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Indian-chronicles_FULLREPORT.pdf


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


Page 50 of the EuDisinfoLab Report
mentions how your (Hussain Haqqani’s) interview with ANI was amplified by Indian media’s propaganda machine for larger audiences by Business Standard & Outlook India to spread anti Pakistan propaganda to even wider global audiences.

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

Page 6 & 89 mentions how ANI that you Hussain Haqqani were giving this interview to, is linked with Indian state & Indian intelligence R&AW operatives & how this propaganda network spanned a 15year period in 116 countries.

Full Report link here:

https://disinfo.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Indian-chronicles_FULLREPORT.pdf


https://twitter.com/KhurramDehwar/status/1337292637402001408?s=20

Riaz Haq said...

A new report highlighting India’s disinformation campaign against Pakistan could help rebuild Pakistan’s international image. However, that is a tall order.

By Hassan Aslam Shad

https://thediplomat.com/2020/12/indian-chronicles-a-new-war-of-narratives-between-india-and-pakistan/

In November, Pakistan handed over its dossier on India’s terror campaign to the United Nations, the P5 members of the U.N. Security Council and the Organization of Islamic Countries claiming that it had “irrefutable evidence” of India financing, training, harboring and supplying weapons to terrorists operating in and against Pakistan. The U.N. Secretary General is said to have promised to study the dossier and take appropriate action. Pakistan is also reported to have warned the U.N. Secretary General that it “reserves the right to act in self-defence.”

It is too early to tell how Pakistan’s lawfare against India will pan out. However, some options it could likely exercise against India are the following.

First, Pakistan will most likely supplement its dossier with the “third party perspective” presented in the EU DisinfoLab report, something that was previously missing in its anti-India narrative. Second, Pakistan will engage with world powers traditionally hostile to Pakistan’s perspective to make them “soften” their stance towards Pakistan. Third, it will try to convince international organizations to pursue legal action against Indian natural and juristic persons named in the EU report who made representations before those organizations. Lastly, Pakistan’s best bet would be to table a resolution against India at the United Nations General Assembly with the hope of obtaining a resolution condemning India for its actions.

Despite the timing of the European NGO report, which comes right after Pakistan’s own dossier, it will find it hard to undo fossilized narratives about itself and India. India’s drift towards extremism – condemnable no less – does not automatically elevate Pakistan’s international stature. This is where the truth lies for Pakistan, and it will face an uphill task in convincing the world to see it through a new lens as the victim of Indian aggression.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s positives
Sakib SheraniUpdated 18 Dec


https://www.dawn.com/news/1596400



THE recent unearthing by EU DisinfoLab of the vast anti-Pakistan disinformation and propaganda network run by India has brought to light a highly-organised, concerted and sustained effort to malign Pakistan internationally. The main aims of this sinister campaign appear to be:

— Defame and discredit Pakistan in international forums and media.

— Shape the international as well as domestic narrative with regard to Pakistan.

— Defang Pakistan’s ability to influence international human rights forums, principally at the UN and EU, with regard to India’s egregious human rights violations in Indian-occupied and illegally held Kashmir.


— Divert Pakistan-bound investment, exports, tourism to weaken the country’s economy.

A concerted campaign has been waged to deflate the morale of the nation.

While the target audience of this campaign’s aforementioned objectives is external, Pakistan’s population is the target for two additional aims of the Indian campaign (which is in the domain of classic ‘fifth-generation’ or ‘hybrid’ warfare).

— Drive a wedge between the populace and the armed forces.

— Deflate the morale of the Pakistani nation.

These two objectives appear to have greater primacy in the Indian calculus. The instruments in this Indian disinformation campaign are not just the hundreds of fake news outlets, wire services or NGOs that have been out-ed, in addition to an army of internet trolls, but co-opted elements in Pakistan’s political parties, mainstream media and its Twitterati brigade.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s positives
Sakib SheraniUpdated 18 Dec


https://www.dawn.com/news/1596400



In this context, the challenge for many Pakistani commentators has been how to highlight shortcomings and fault lines in the polity and economy without playing into the agenda of deflating morale or reinforcing the stereotypical image of the country that is carefully cultivated by its enemies. Guilty of focusing almost exclusively on the negatives in Pakistan’s situation, it is time to make amends. Here are six major positives with regard to Pakistan’s economy that play a huge role in its functioning — and are generally underreported or rarely mentioned.

The payments system: The payments system is the means of exchanging monetary value within an economy and across national borders. An efficient payments system is the backbone of any economy. The State Bank of Pakistan oversees an effective and efficient national payments system, the backbone of which is the real-time processing and final settlement of funds transfer instructions via its RTGS system. In recent years, however, innovative retail payment platforms have been rolled out and supported, such as branchless banking (especially mobile phone banking). Collectively, the payments system infrastructure (comprising large value, e-banking as well as paper-based) handled around Rs550tr worth of transactions in FY18.

Labour mobility: Another under-appreciated facet of Pakistan’s economy is the near-frictionless physical mobility of labour across the country. Unskilled and semi-skilled workers from the northern areas work in Karachi in the hundreds of thousands, while skilled ‘techies’ from Karachi run start-ups in Lahore and Islamabad without hesitation or cultural difficulty. This aspect makes for efficient allocation of labour in different markets, enhancing overall economic efficiency. (We should remain vigilant, however, as labour mobility across different regions of Pakistan will be in the cross hairs of our enemies as they seek to disrupt the process of national integration.)

A vibrant tech ecosystem: Pakistan is increasingly being viewed internationally as Asia’s next big market for tech start-ups. The start-up scene in Pakistan is thriving with many expatriate Pakistanis returning and contributing to its vibrancy. In addition, an estimated more than 10,000 application developers/ freelancers enter the workforce each year. More than 5,000 IT companies based in Pakistan not just export their services to buyers in nearly 100 countries around the world, but are increasingly able to raise capital from venture capitalists and angel investors too. It is estimated that Pakistan earns anywhere from $2bn to $4bn a year from software exports alone, with official figures understated due to many freelancers preferring to route their export earnings as worker remittances. The rise of digitally savvy consumers, broadband connectivity and availability of a strong tech talent base that is still relatively cheaper and more competitive are propelling the growth in the industry.

The Nadra database: With over 100m computerised national identity cards issued by Nadra, covering 96pc of the country’s adult population, citizen information contained in the Nadra and allied databases is a rich source of data (with history) that can be better utilised for more efficient planning or tax profiling etc.

A giving nation: Pakistanis are a generous, giving nation and one can see this all over the country not just in the form of big-name charitable entities like the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust hospitals, SIUT, Indus Hospital, and the centres for the needy run by the Edhi Foundation etc, but in the form of thousands of charities run by individuals and affluent families across the length and breadth of Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s positives
Sakib SheraniUpdated 18 Dec


https://www.dawn.com/news/1596400



According to the Charities Aid Foundation, Pakistan ranks among the top 10 nations in the world both in terms of number of people helping a stranger or donating money. The vast amounts of zakat and charity that Pakistanis channel to their needy brethren is a huge social support system that buttresses the government’s efforts via the Benazir Income Support Program, Baitul Maal and the Ehsaas programme.

A resilient nation: The resilience of Pakistanis has been well noted globally. Despite the most challenging of economic, social or security conditions over a protracted period of time, millions of the country’s citizens have plodded on, not just earning an income for themselves and supporting their families in the process, but starting social initiatives that have immeasurably helped local communities too.

From the Kiran school in Karachi’s Lyari, to feeding the poor initiative in another impoverished neighbourhood, to driving pink rickshaws and women-only taxis, to driving a truck on the highways — all initiatives and endeavours run by women — Pakistanis demonstrate their ‘hardiness’ and resilience daily across the length and breadth of the country. And through it all, they manage a smile on their faces — and don’t compromise on their famed hospitality.

The writer is a former member of the prime minister’s economic advisory council, and heads a macroeconomic consultancy based in Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, December 18th, 2020

Riaz Haq said...

#ISIS Story, Told in a #NYTimes Podcast, is Fake. #Pakistani-#Canadian Shehroze Chaudhry, the main source in 2018 podcast “Caliphate,” for New York Times, was a fabulist who spun jihadist tales about killing for the Islamic State in #Syria" #Islamophobia https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/18/world/middleeast/caliphate-chaudhry-hoax.html?smid=tw-share

A Riveting ISIS Story, Told in a Times Podcast, Falls Apart
A Canadian’s gruesome account as an Islamic State executioner in Syria, which was the subject of the “Caliphate” podcast by The New York Times, was fabricated, officials say. A Times review found no corroboration of his claim to have committed atrocities.

He described the killings in lurid detail — how he shot one man in the head and stabbed another in the heart before hanging the corpse on a cross.

He spoke at length about joining the religious police of the Islamic State in Syria, and being trucked to a terrorist training session on attacking the West, including North America, his homeland.

He recounted how Islamic State commanders displayed maps and color-coded instructions, showing recruits like him how to strike major Western targets, get into restricted areas, kill people and attain martyrdom.

They envisioned “something as spectacular as 9/11,” he said. “They wanted to outdo Al Qaeda, make their mark.”


But Shehroze Chaudhry, the central figure in the 2018 podcast “Caliphate,” by The New York Times, was a fabulist who spun jihadist tales about killing for the Islamic State in Syria, Canadian and American intelligence and law enforcement officials contend.

Mr. Chaudhry, they say, was not a terrorist, almost certainly never went to Syria, and concocted gruesome stories about being an Islamic State executioner as part of a Walter Mitty-like escape from his more mundane life in a Toronto suburb and in Lahore, Pakistan, where he spent years living with his grandparents.

Mr. Chaudhry’s elaborate accounts, told to The Times and other news outlets, caused a political uproar in Canada. The award-winning “Caliphate” series broadcast his claims of killing for the Islamic State to millions of listeners, fueling outrage that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government had allowed a terrorist to live freely in suburban Toronto despite the crimes Mr. Chaudhry had so openly confessed to committing in Syria.

Riaz Haq said...

The following words from Fareed Zakaria’s Washington Post column on Russian hack of US systems also apply to India’s disinformation campaign against Pakistan:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/russia-hasnt-just-hacked-our-computer-systems-its-hacked-our-minds/2020/12/17/7ddd72a8-40a7-11eb-8bc0-ae155bee4aff_story.html

“In 2016, two scholars at Rand Corp. wrote a paper describing Russia’s “firehose of falsehood” propaganda model. Very different from Cold War-era propaganda, current Russian approaches work with prevailing technologies and social media platforms. There are two key features — “high numbers of channels and messages and a shameless willingness to disseminate partial truths or outright fictions.” There is no effort at consistency or credibility. The report quotes one analyst: “New Russian propaganda entertains, confuses and overwhelms the audience.”

https://www.rand.org/pubs/perspectives/PE198.html

Riaz Haq said...

#Canadian police rule out ‘foul play’ in #Pakistani activist #KarimaBaloch death. Her role as a speaker at a UNHRC meeting in March 2019 was mentioned in the report by the #EUDisinfoLab, an independent #NGO based in Brussels. #India #RAW https://aje.io/mdj42 via @AJEnglish

Canadian police have ruled the death of a prominent Pakistani rights activist in the city of Toronto to be “non-criminal”, even as rights groups have called for a more thorough investigation into the incident.

The body of Karima Mehtab Baloch, 37, was found by police on Monday after she had been reported missing a day earlier, police said.

“The circumstances have been investigated and officers have determined this to be a non-criminal death and no foul play is suspected,” said Toronto’s police department in a short statement.

Police said Baloch’s family had been informed of the determination.

While the family was not immediately available for comment, Baloch’s husband Hamal Haider had earlier told Al Jazeera Baloch had been facing numerous and specific threats to her life due to her work in the recent past.

Screenshots of one of the threats, demanding some of Baloch’s statements regarding her rights work be taken down from a website, were shared with Al Jazeera.

She was a prominent and vocal activist for the rights of Pakistan’s ethnic Baloch.

A native of Balochistan province, the country’s largest but least populated and least developed region, Baloch was known for her work on enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings allegedly carried out by Pakistan’s military in the area.

She fled Pakistan due to threats to her life in late 2015 and was granted political asylum by Canada in 2017.

In 2016, the BBC named Baloch as one of its 100 “inspirational and influential women for that year”, citing her activism.

Baloch’s activism
Baloch rose to prominence as the head of the Baloch Students Organisation’s Azad faction (BSO-A), a student political organisation that calls for greater rights and independence for Pakistan’s ethnic Baloch minority.

She took over the position after the previous head, Zahid Baloch, disappeared in mysterious circumstances in 2014. Baloch activists claim he was abducted by the Pakistani military, which has been fighting against armed separatist groups in Balochistan for more than a decade.

Rights groups have documented a sustained campaign of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings targeting pro-independence Baloch activists in the region.

Pakistan’s security forces deny any wrongdoing, claiming those who are counted as “disappeared” are members of armed groups.

Critics of Baloch’s work say it was instigated by Pakistan’s regional rival India, who has been known to support dissident voices against Pakistan’s government.

Karima Baloch was named in a recent in-depth research report into a vast network of fake news websites and questionable NGOs that appeared to be operated by India-based actors to propagate messages critical of the Pakistani government and military.

Her role as a speaker at a UN Human Rights Council meeting in March 2019 on behalf of NGO African Regional Agricultural Credit Association (AFRACA) was mentioned in the report by the EU Disinfo Lab, an independent rights group based in Brussels.

The EU Disinfo Lab identified AFRACA as a legitimate NGO whose name may have been misused by the Indian network to gain access to UN Human Rights Council events.

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...

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.

---------


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...

#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.

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

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.



--------------
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."