Twitter flags BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya's tweet on farmers' protest as 'manipulated media'

Taking note of this, many Twitter users remarked that this is the first instance of the social media site calling out 'fake news' in India

FP Staff December 02, 2020 13:27:54 IST
Twitter flags BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya's tweet on farmers' protest as 'manipulated media'

File image of BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya. PTI

Twitter has flagged a tweet by BJP's IT cell chief Amit Malviya as "manipulated media", amid an increased push by the microblogging site to warn users about fake or misleading news.

Taking note of this, many Twitter users remarked that this is the first instance of the social media site calling out "fake news" in India.

Malviya's 'manipulated' tweet

On 28 November, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had shared a picture of a policeman whipping a baton towards an old farmer who was among those protesting against the new farm laws at Delhi's Singhu border. "It is a very sad photo. Our slogan was 'Jai Jawan Jai Kisan' but today, PM Modi's arrogance made the jawan stand against the farmer," the Congress leader wrote in his tweet.

Replying to Gandhi’s tweet, the BJP IT head shared a video clip labelling it as “reality”, which showed the policeman’s baton not touching the farmer.

Soon, several fact-checking websites reported that Malviya had tweeted a clipped video.

“Amit Malviya shared a few seconds of a clipped video to suggest that the elderly farmer wasn’t hit. This was an attempt to water down the force used by police against the protestors. 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,” Alt News had concluded.

Another fact-checking website, BOOMLive, fact-checked Malviya's claim by reaching out to the old farmer who seen being hit in the video. He has been identified as Sukhdev Singh and is currently at the Haryana-Delhi border. He was quoted in media reports as saying that he had sustained injuries on his forearm, back, and calf muscle.

"My arms have turned black and blue where the lathi hit me and there are bruises on my back too. They can say I have not been hit, but I am right here if they want to come and see my injuries," Singh was quoted by BOOMLive.

Twitter's policy on misleading content

Twitter has started red-flagging content posted on its platform if it is “significantly and deceptively altered or fabricated, if they shared in a deceptive manner, or if they are likely to impact public safety or cause harm.” It also removes content if two or more criteria are met.

As per Twitter's '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."

Twitter India's action of flagging Malviya's tweet as 'manipulated' comes after many calls were made by social media users asking it to implement the same rules that the site applies to US politicians. During the run-up to the 2020 US elections, Twitter had flagged a number of tweets by US President Donald Trump for posting false information on coronavirus among other things.

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