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Around 1,079 Pakistani Twitter handles being used to spread hate speech around Citizenship Amendment Act

In the last few weeks, more than 1,079 Twitter accounts were created in Pakistan to spread hate speech around Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), according to a report prepared by cybersecurity company Innefu Labs, which works closely with government and enforcement agencies, including the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The report, which is available exclusively with Tech2, shows that Pakistan is the hotspot and point of origin of hate speech and anti-India narrative aiming to destabilise social harmony and create internal conflict, by calling India a “terror state” and a “Nazi” country.

In fifteen days, ending 23 December, 2019, hashtags, influencers and bots were used to spread anti-national content using social media.

#NaziIndiaRejected was created by @PTI_VF, which has more than 28,000 followers. Other ones such as #IndiaDiscriminatesMuslims was created by Pakistan-based influencer Husnain Baloch on 21 Dec, 2019. The hashtag #ModiTerrorismPolicy was created by F_H_B_PK on 20 Dec, 2019. And some other of the handles that propagated hate speeches are @KranchiKings19s (does not exist now) and @Rayyank077. Some of the other hashtags originating from Pakistan are #caa_nrc_protests, #citizenshipamendmentact, #indiaagainstcaa_nrc, #indiahatemodi, #cabprotests, among others, used for negative propaganda.

Some of the hashtags were used to originate the hate speeches and others were used to post propaganda videos, misinformation, and police brutality.

“They work in two phases — first by creating a hashtag and then using their activists to bring it in the trending list,” said Tarun Wig, co-founder and CTO of Innefu Labs, which used uses data analytics and artificial intelligence solutions to track and flag off cybercrimes.

The accounts’ and the bots’ objective is to increase negative sentiment and radicalise Muslims against the bill. The accounts projected the CAA as communal law. The report also said that attempts were made, using these accounts and bots, to start countrywide protests. These accounts were also used to share a series of videos and posts against police brutality.

“There is a gradual rise in the use of the internet by Pakistani outfits,” said Wig. “They have become very active with an increase in their workforce by outfits like Social Media activist or SM activist, and PCF (Pak Cyber Force).”

Though it is difficult to find out which are the organisations behind these accounts and bots, Wig has witnessed a gradual rise of such groups on the internet.

“Initially Pakistan Cyber Force was very active apart from JiD cyber army, but now multiple other groups seem to have been started by them for the same thing,” said Wig.

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