India called out Pakistan for propagating fake news through social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
“Malicious propaganda, misinformation, #infodemic, fake news. Call it what you may. Do read this report from the @stanfordio on motivated false propaganda from Pakistan. The truth is out for the world to see,” Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations (New York) said in a tweet.
A report by Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) on its investigation exposed a network of Pakistan-based Facebook and Instagram accounts that leveraged mass reporting to silence critics of Islamabad. Facebook shared a portion of this network on August 28 with the SIO which then conducted its own investigation and brought out its report.
“On August 31, 2020, Facebook suspended 103 Pages, 78 Groups, 453 Facebook accounts, and 107 Instagram accounts for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour. As it notes in its takedown report, Facebook attributed this network to individuals in Pakistan,” the SIO report reads.
The report highlights how the mass reporting networks operated, with Group and Page administrators mobilizing social media users to report accounts that were critical of Islam or the Pakistani military/government and how a network of social media accounts originating in Pakistan posted Pakistani nationalist messages and criticized the Indian government.
This is not the first public suspension of coordinated activity in Pakistan. In April 2019 Facebook suspended a network of accounts linked to the Interservice Public Relations wing of the Pakistani military.
According to Digital Forensic Research Lab, that network “represented a significant influence operation, apparently aimed at boosting support for the army inside Pakistan and boosting support for Pakistan abroad.”
“The repeated invoking of duty towards religion and nation for mass reporting,” the SIO report noted.