Thursday Dec 03, 2020
In a first, Twitter has labeled a tweet by India's far-right Bharatiya Janata Party's head of IT cell as "manipulated media".
The tweet in question was BJP's Amit Malviya responding to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi posting a photograph of a policeman wielding his baton against a protesting elderly farmer.
"It is a very sad photo. Our slogan was 'Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan' but today PM [Narendra] Modi's arrogance has made the Jawan stand against Kisan. This is very dangerous," warned Gandhi.
Quote tweeting Gandhi's post, Malviya posted a "propaganda vs reality" video purporting that the farmer was not hit by the police. "Rahul Gandhi must be the most discredited Opposition leader India has seen in a long long time," he captioned it.
The move backfired as Twitter flagged the post to be "manipulated media".
Alt News explained that the BJP IT cell head shared a few seconds of a clipped video to suggest that the farmer was not hit. "This was an attempt to water down the force used by police against the protestors," it continued. "It must be pointed out that whether the baton touched the farmer or not is irrelevant. The video was shot at a time when large numbers of protestors had broken police barricades and the cops were retaliating with lathi-charge and tear gas."
The farmers in India have been protesting against three new farm bills introduced by the Modi government in September this year. Alt News said the farmers fear the "legislation makes them captive to big corporations and abolishes minimum support price".
Read more: Narendra Modi’s August 5 (mis)adventure
This is the first instance of Twitter proceeding against "fake news" in India. The micro-blogging website recently issued a new policy to limit the spread of misinformation - one of which is the "Synthetic and manipulated media policy".
"You may not deceptively promote synthetic or manipulated media that are likely to cause harm. In addition, we may label Tweets containing synthetic and manipulated media to help people understand their authenticity and to provide additional context," reads the policy statement.
"In most cases, if we have reason to believe that media shared in a Tweet have been significantly and deceptively altered or fabricated, we will provide additional context on Tweets sharing the media where they appear on Twitter," it added.
The first person to face action under this policy was US President Donald Trump in June 2020 when Twitter flagged a clip showing two toddlers of different races hugging was presented as a fake CNN broadcast with the chyron that a "terrified toddler runs from a racist baby".
Twitter flagged the tweet as "manipulated media" as multiple journalists pointed out that the original story was on the friendship the two toddlers shared.