NEW DELHI - The cliche goes that the first casualty of war is truth.
With Israel’s occupation of Palestine, disinformation often comes with a side of anti-Palestinianism and Islamophobia, turbocharged by social media amplification, especially under Elon Musk’s leadership of X, formerly known as Twitter.
But an intriguing element of the disinformation that has flooded social media since Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel is that a lot of it has been produced or spread by right-leaning accounts based out of India.
BOOM, one of India’s most reputed fact-checking services, found several verified Indian X users at the helm of a disinformation campaign.
These “disinfluencers” – influencers who have routinely shared disinformation – have been “mostly targeting Palestine negatively, or being supportive of Israel”, according to BOOM.
They have peddled tropes that have sought to showcase Palestinians as fundamentally brutal. Many of the accounts sharing these false videos also spend a lot of their time posting anti-Muslim comments on X.
One account, Mr Sinha_, who shared the false video of a boy being beheaded by Hamas, included the hashtag #IslamIsTheProblem in the same post. Others have been more explicit in their hatred of Palestine.
One Indian account, purporting to belong to a retired Indian soldier, stated, “Israel must finish off Palestine from the planet.” It is no secret that India has an Islamophobia problem, one that has only increased since the rise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
A report by the Australia-based Islamic Council of Victoria found that the majority of all Islamophobic tweets can be traced back to India.