Disinformation Diplomacy: When Worlds Collide on Social Media
In the ever-evolving landscape of social media, where tweets and posts can become powerful weapons of activism and amplify the voices of the voiceless, they can also be used for spreading mass disinformation campaigns. In the wake of the Palestine-Israel war, we can see a peculiar alliance that has emerged in the scene. While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no laughing matter, the strange bedfellows of Indian and Israeli right-wingers have found common ground on social media – and it’s vicious how these two groups have spearheaded a hate campaign.
Hindutva Meets the Middle East: An Unlikely Connection
Picture this: two groups with a grotesque sense of extreme nationalism form a bond over the persecution of an ethnic group taking part in a political drama on the other end of the world, and the result is a bizarre cocktail of disinformation and online shenanigans.
That’s precisely what we’re witnessing as right-leaning accounts from India and Israel bond over, of all things, human rights abuses.
While social media platforms like Twitter have often been hailed for connecting people across the globe, they also have a knack for connecting the unlikeliest of allies. In this case, it’s a questionable shared interest in spreading disinformation and supporting ethnic cleansing.
If influencers are individuals who shape trends and opinions, then what do you call those who influence disinformation? Meet the “disinfluencers” – a breed of online personalities who have taken it upon themselves to amplify false narratives, particularly when it comes to the atrocities caused by the Israeli military on the Palestinian people. And it’s not just some random guy sitting in a basement with access to the internet or a group of cyber trolls paid by political groups to further an agenda, you can also see legacy media working tirelessly to shape the narrative and spew hatred.
These disinfluencers have peddled stories that belong more in a spy thriller than on social media. From false claims of Hamas kidnapping a Jewish baby to bizarre accusations of a US-led psyop, it’s like a digital game of “Chinese Whispers” gone horribly wrong.
After a journalist from CNN published a video claiming ‘Hamas beheading 40 babies’, Indian trolls took it upon themselves to add some more context and widely spread the story. Even after independent fact-checkers and Israeli officials verified the story to be false these posts were shared and viewed millions of times with thousands of retweets, including one from Ben Shapiro, who disseminated it to his large following.
It seems these disinfluencers have a knack for playing the blame game, framing Palestinians as fundamentally brutal. From fake videos of girls as supposed “sex slaves” to outlandish claims, it’s a disinformation circus with India and Israel in the front row.
The issue extends beyond the online world. India, with its own struggles against Islamophobia, has seen this phenomenon spill over into social media. The rise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP party has contributed to an increase in Islamophobia, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become an unfortunate battleground for this sentiment.
This is not just a disinformation campaign in the digital battlefield to combat the enemy, it is a hate campaign to vilify Palestinians and Muslims. A devilish scheme to justify the brutal killings and atrocities and create a narrative that will pave the ground for ethnic cleansing.