SIO probe finds Pak FB accounts that criticise Modi, BJP

SIO probe finds Pak FB accounts that criticise Modi, BJP

By Sanjeev Sharma

New Delhi, Sep two (SocialNews.XYZ) The Stanford Web Observatory has investigated a network of social media accounts originating in Pakistan that posted Pakistani nationalist messages and criticised the Indian government.

There is a possibility that some pro-Indian Army pages have been produced to recognize Indian Army supporters and mass report these accounts. On August 31, Facebook suspended 103 pages, 78 groups, 453 Facebook accounts, and 107 Instagram accounts for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour. Facebook attributed this network to folks in Pakistan.

Facebook shared a portion of this network with the Stanford Web Observatory on August 28. The primary theme across the pages and groups was Pakistani nationalist content material: content material praising the military and ISI, and supporting Pakistan in its rivalry with India. There was also content material elevating the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-eInsaf (PTI) celebration and criticism of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) celebration.

Stanford Web Observatory is a programme of the Cyber Policy Centre – element of the Freeman Spogli Institute for international Research at Stanford University. ‘Reporting for Duty’ is an investigation into a network of Pakistan-primarily based Facebook and Instagram accounts suspended for coordinated inauthentic behaviour reveals mass reporting to silence critics of Islam and Pakistan.

“Posts also criticised India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Celebration (BJP) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, normally mocking Modi’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic”, the investigation located. “We observed content material crucial of the BJP, Modi, and the Indian Army, and messaging that supported the Khalistan movement. Posts mocked Modi’s handling of COVID-19, with statements such as, ‘You can not discover India’s name in the leading 40 coronavirus security nations. Function does not take place just by speaking”, the investigation located.

“The web page Mujahid Markhour, and its linked (nevertheless reside) YouTube channel, disseminated content material centered on the Pakistani military. Posts and videos have been crucial of India and praised the feats of ISI. There have been also conspiracy theories about the Illuminati and Bill Gates”, the investigation located. The most-viewed video in this network came from Mujahid Markhour. It showed an improvised explosive device attack on Afghan safety forces in Afghanistan, with a poem laced with religious imagery praising the Taliban’s faith and resolve. Some of the comments have been similarly pro-Taliban.

The Stanford Observatory mentioned in its report, “The network integrated numerous Indian Army fan pages and groups. Some of these entities, like the web page “Indian Army Lovers,” posted purely constructive content material about the Indian Army. It is unclear how these pages match into the objectives of the network. A single possibility is that the network employed these pages to recognize Indian Army supporters who they would then mass report, although we have no proof to assistance this hypothesis”.

“A different possibility is that the actors behind the network aimed to subtly place some content material aligned with their ideology into these networks. Some pages have been typically pro-India but had a handful of posts that have been crucial of Modi”, the report located. The pages have been produced more than 4 years, with the earliest web page, Indian Army Lovers, initially posting in early 2016.

The most prolific web page was the Mujahid Markhor (translates to “snake-consuming Mujahid”), which had posted 807 occasions because the finish of 2019. The report located that several of the suspended assets hyperlink themselves to a thing known as the Pakistan Cooperative. It has a internet site, which posts content material praising the Pakistani military, and a suspended Twitter account. It is linked to the Facebook web page Ideology Of Islam &amp Pakistan, which is not integrated in this takedown but similarly organises mass reporting.

It refers to its group as the Defenders of Islamic Ideology of Pakistan. The report identified the developer of Auto Reporter as Nasir Ali, who, according to his Facebook profile, is Pakistani and the founder and CEO of Tigerzplace. He is also listed as the tech speak to for the domain.

“Ali often posts Anonymous and pro-Pakistani imagery to his timeline. His Facebook profile also lists him as a net developer at Pak Cyber Professionals, whose Facebook Web page consists of anti-India, anti-Modi, and pro-Pakistan content material”, the investigation located. A prominent function of this network was the coordinated reporting of Facebook and Instagram accounts that have been noticed as anti-Islamic or crucial of Pakistan.

Troll armies with names like Voice of Islam would push posts to Groups and Pages in the network, encouraging customers to report up to 80 profiles at a time, with guidelines on how to do so rapidly and with direct hyperlinks to the reporting websites. Facebook shared 283 profiles and 96 Instagram accounts with SIO. The Instagram accounts appeared to be mainly individual accounts. In Facebook’s takedown report they note that several of the accounts pretended to be Indians. The similar themes appeared in the Groups, exactly where Group titles referenced Pakistani and Indian patriotism, and account reporting.

The most well-known Group was ‘Indian Peramiltry (sic) Force’, which was produced in late 2018 and had extra than 300,000 members, the report located. The observatory also highlighted how mass reporting networks operated, with Group and Web page administrators mobilising social media customers to report accounts that have been Ahmadi, or crucial of Islam or the Pakistani military or government.

“Though we do not know who was behind this operation, we note the repeated invoking of duty towards religion and nation for mass reporting. We also observed a post on the network that stated that a member of a single of the mass reporting teams had died, and that not only was he a hardworking, productive ‘patriot’ who worked on social media reporting of ‘subversives’, but that he also worked with ‘agencies’ (implying either intelligence or military) on the ground”, the Observatory located.

At the similar time, the high-quality of the disinformation content material did not rise to that of a previously Pakistani military-attributed takedown. “We hope Pakistan researchers and reporters will investigate this network additional”, Stanford Web Observatory mentioned in its analysis. On August 31, Facebook suspended 103 Pages, 78 Groups, 453 Facebook accounts, and 107 Instagram accounts for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior.

Facebook attributed this network to folks in Pakistan. Facebook shared a portion of this network with the Stanford Web Observatory on August 28. “In our investigation, we discover that the network engaged in mass reporting: the coordinated reporting of accounts ostensibly for violating a platform’s terms of service. The network encouraged customers to mass-report accounts that have been crucial of Islam and the Pakistani government, and in some circumstances accounts that have been element of the Ahmadi religious neighborhood”, the Observatory report mentioned.

“The network also had messaging praising the Pakistani military, along with some Indian military fan Pages and Groups of unclear objective. The network seems to have mainly targeted Pakistanis and Indians posts have been in Urdu, Hindi, English, and Punjabi. Facebook reports that 70,000 accounts followed at least a single of the Pages and 1.1 million customers belonged to the Groups”, it mentioned.

Quite a few Pages and Groups posted Pakistani nationalist content material, praising the Inter-Solutions Intelligence (ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency) and ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) celebration. “The network integrated numerous Indian Army fan Pages and Groups, which had mainly constructive messaging about the Indian military and government. We are unclear what the objective of these entities was”, it mentioned.

Mass reporting mobilisers often boasted about their supposed successes. For instance, a troll army known as Defenders of Islamic Ideology of Pakistan claimed to have gotten accounts suspended on the Group, ‘Pakistan: A really like, a madness’. The post incorporates the name of the accounts and the hyperlink so that customers can see for themselves that the accounts are down.

(Sanjeev Sharma can be contacted at [email protected])

Supply: IANS

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