After the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, a string of fake videos showing widespread protests in the Valley and atrocities on common people by armed forces, several of them emanating from Pakistan, spread like wildfire.
In its report, the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) reported on Thursday, what Uzair Rizvi, a fact-checker for news agency AFP in India, saw.
What amazed Rizvi the most was how fast false videos about the Kashmir situation started to pop up on social media, Cristina Tardáguila, Associate Director of the IFCN wrote at poynter.org.
“One of them, claiming that Kashmiris were defying the restrictions with a massive pro-independence rally became viral really fast,” Rizvi was quoted as saying.
“It started gaining traction one day after (Article 370 was revoked), with people actually believing it to be true. And since there were no media to verify or authenticate it, people shared it widely and it had millions of views. But it was an old video, from a militant’s funeral,” Rizvi added.
Since then, fact-checkers are busting false information almost on a daily basis. Even journalists and ministers from Pakistan have been found to spread fake news.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police on August 13 said they took up with Twitter the “malicious content” posted by senior Pakistani lawmaker Rehman Malik who had tweeted that the Indian Army was using “helicopter gunships” to fire on villagers in Kashmir.
“This malicious content is strongly rebutted. We have taken up the matter with @TwitterSupport,” the Jammu and Kashmir Police tweeted, tagging the posts of Malik.
Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi on August 18 shared a 2017 video with a caption that falsely mentioned that it showed the sufferings of the people of Kashmir due to the policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Indian government.
Replying to the charge, Kashmir police officer Imtiyaz Hussain said that the video was shot in Panchkula, Haryana and not Kashmir. People seen in the video were followers of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh protesting against his arrest.
Taking note of the new fake news peddled on its platform, Twitter has suspended over 200 accounts in the wake of India revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
However, that has not stopped the spread of fake news on social media platforms more than fifteen days after the abrogation of Article 370.
Another video shared thousands of times on Facebook falsely claimed that people in the Valley defied curfew to protest against India’s decision to scrap Article 370.
Many of the videos that fake news peddlers are trying to pass off as protests in Kashmir or atrocities by armed forces have been found to be old videos. People often edit the content of the videos or write false captions while sharing them on social media to make them appear as genuine.