Muslims are the main target of misinformation and disinformation in India: A Report

Spread the love

A recent Boom Live’s analysis has revealed that the Muslim Community has been the primary target of misinformation and disinformation. Echoing the results from the previous reports, the analysis has also revealed that Muslims have been a target of ake news since 2021.

The analysis which has been published in three languages stated that out of 1,190 published fact-checks, 183 fact-checks targeted Muslims.

Among statements aimed at Muslims, 84.2% were shared with the intention of promoting ‘demographic concern,’ which is broadly defined as fostering enmity toward specific demographic groups. This trend reflects the rising prominence of Islamophobic language in Indian politics, as well as greater antagonism toward Muslims in the country.

Another recurrent target was Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, only 63 of the 1,190 fact checks targeted Modi. Unlike the Muslim community, the country’s prime minister has made numerous misleading assertions that show him positively.

Among the 70 fact-checks on political party assertions, 33 were directed at the BJP, followed by 21 at the Indian National Congress and 8 at the Aam Aadmi Party. Furthermore, the Israel-Palestine war received over 100 fact-checks, making it the year’s most fact-checked topic.

In 2023, 28.2%, or 305 fact-checks were related to Indian politics, mostly affected by the state Assembly elections held during the year in states such as Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Telangana, Mizoram, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh.

Misinformation about international events ranked second, accounting for more than 17% of all fact-checks. Nearly half of them were related to the Israel-Palestine war, followed by the France riots in June and July, which accounted for 8.4%, and the Russia-Ukraine war, which accounted for 4.2%. Communal false claims followed closely behind, accounting for 17% of all fact-checks. Within this category, 16.3% actively promoted Islamophobia.

BOOM fact-checked 211 stories about religious groups. Nearly 87% targeted Muslims, 11% Hindus, and 0.9% Christians. In our investigation, we discovered that both Hindus and Muslims were exposed to inaccurate content, with these statements being the most common type of disinformation for both groups. However, the proportion of these claims varied significantly between the two groups. Specifically, 67.4% of false claims were directed at Muslims, whereas only 5.2% targeted Hindus.

Furthermore, 0.48% of false content was targeted at Christians. Similarly, 72.2% of the 211 fact-checks focused at Muslims were sectarian in nature, compared to 5.26% for Hindus. Nearly three-quarters of the allegations made against Muslims were distributed with the objective of inciting hostility amongst religious groups.

Furthermore, BOOM discovered that the polarization of anti-Muslim and anti-Hindu claims was vastly different, with 94.4% of them being anti-Muslim and 5.6% being anti-Hindu.

Regarding claims aimed at both religious groups, BOOM authenticated a collage of wedding images depicting the two-year marriage of Hindu youth Rahul Verma from Mandsaur and a Muslim female named Iqra from Rajasthan. The bogus report stated that Iqra adopted Sanatan Dharma and married Rahul, and that Rahul murdered Iqra by burning her and fled. However, Mandsaur Police confirmed to BOOM that the assertion made in the viral photos is untrue; Rahul and Iqra are both alive and safe.

Between January 1 and December 31, 2023, BOOM disproved 77 fact-checks on incorrect or misreported news from news stations, websites, and wire agencies. Here are the key takeaways:

1. According to BOOM’s exclusive investigation of media misreporting in 2023, 62 of the 77 fact-checks were published by mainstream media through their own bylines, with the remaining 15 being misreported by wire agencies and disseminated by newsrooms as part of their syndicated feed.

2. News18, Times Now, and Zee News were the mainstream media outlets that sent out the most media-related falsehoods in 2023.

3. Asian News International (ANI) remained the top wire agency in the media misreporting list, reporting eight instances of fake news.

4. According to our report, several media outlets fell for fake news shared by right-wing accounts on X, including Megh Updates (@MeghUpdates), BALA (@erbmjha), Rishi Bagree (@rishibagree), The Right Wing Guy (@T_R_W_G), Kreately (@KreatelyMedia), Dr Nimo Yadav (@niiravmodi), and The Tatva (@thetatvaindia). Media outlets fell for at least nine tweets by MeghUpdates, which disseminated fake and unsubstantiated information.

5. Of the 77 fact-checks, the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup, the Indian Premier League (IPL), and individual cricketers were the most frequently misreported.

6. News outlets such as Economic Times, Times of India, Business Standard, Odisha TV, Lokmat, ABP, Jagran, Mint, CNBC TV 18, ANI, News18, and India Today primarily published fabricated news in support of the Indian government, whereas outlets such as ANI, WION, Zee News, India TV, Amar Ujala, Hindustan Times, DNA, ABP News, News24, and Firstpost were responsible for spreading false and communal claims against Muslims.

BOOM also did a monthly analysis of the leading themes of misinformation and deception in 2023. Islamophobic claims increased steadily throughout the year, peaking in January, February, July, and December. Misinformation about the February 2023 Turkey earthquakes was primarily spread in that month and March.

  • False allegations about the Israel-Palestine war rose in October and November before progressively decreasing in December. Between May and August, social media was awash with false allegations about the Manipur violence that broke out between the Meitei and Kuki communities. Misinformation about the 2023 Karnataka Assembly elections peaked in April and May. In addition, a large number of election-related claims were verified between October and November, when Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh went to the elections.
Post Disclaimer

Disclaimer: Muslims are the main target of misinformation and disinformation in India: A Report - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect point-of-view

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *