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BOOM Research

Political Mis/Disinfo Fueled By Old & Unrelated Claims Dominated April

Over half or 51.7% of the 147 fact-checks dealt with mis/disinformation that were peddled using old and unrelated videos

By - Nidhi Jacob | 10 May 2024 3:30 AM GMT

In April, BOOM published 147 fact-checks across English, Hindi, and Bangla. The 2024 Lok Sabha general elections was the core topic of mis/disinformation accounting for 75.5% or 111 fact-checks.

BOOM verified 11 AI-generated fact-checks, which included 10 voice clones and 1 AI-generated image. This is a significant increase from the 3 AI-related fact-checks published in March. Among these, 8 out of the 11 fact-checks were related to the ongoing general elections.

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Additionally, 55.7% of the 147 fact-checks involved claims shared by verified accounts on social media. Among these, X accounts such as Megh Updates and individuals like Rishi Bagree, Amit Malviya, and KRK were identified by BOOM's analysis as repeatedly spreading misinformation on X.

Over half or 51.7% of the total fact-checks dealt with mis/disinformation that were peddled using old and unrelated videos.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was the target of old claims which were unrelated to the current elections, accounting for 9 fact-checks in total. The next targets were Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi, each with 8 and 7 fact-checks, respectively.

Theme Assessment

Lok Sabha elections 2024

BOOM verified 111 fact-checks surrounding the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. As per our analysis, more than half or 52.3% of the claims in the 111 fact-checks were peddled using old and unrelated videos and images.

With 41 fact-checks out of 111, the BJP and its leaders were the main target of mis/disinformation, particularly concerning the misrepresentation of old videos as current events happening during the elections. The next target of mis/disinformation was the Indian National Congress and its leaders, with 20 fact-checks followed by All India Trinamool Congress (10) and Aam Aadmi Party (3), among others.

Claims targeting the BJP

Of the 41 fact-checks targeting BJP, claims in 17 fact-checks contained old and unrelated content.

While the BJP and its leaders were the targets of old claims, only 10 fact-checks pertained to claims that were explicitly anti-BJP in nature. The majority, totalling 30 fact-checks, were neutral.

These include clashes among regional BJP workers being misrepresented as recent events or speeches made by party leaders in the past being circulated during the current elections, indicating that the claims being shared as recent occurrences had actually taken place in the past. This suggests that while they may have been misrepresented, they are not entirely false or fabricated.

For instance, an old video of Home Minister Amit Shah talking about ending Muslim reservation in Telangana was doctored and shared with the false claim that it showed him promising to end reservations for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) communities, if the BJP regained power. 

BOOM found that the viral video was edited. In the original video, Amit Shah was seen talking about ending Muslim reservation in Telangana during the 2023 Assembly election campaign. 


Similarly, a video circulating online allegedly showing a group of BJP leaders being assaulted by the public during a campaign was viral with claims suggesting it occurred in Tamil Nadu. However, BOOM found that the incident actually occurred in Odisha and portrayed a clash between two factions of BJP leaders in October 2023.


We also found a rise in deepfakes featuring celebrities either endorsing or criticising different political parties. A video of actor Ranveer Singh criticising PM Modi over rising unemployment and soaring inflation was viral online. We analysed the video using Itisaar, a a deepfake detection tool developed by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Jodhpur and found that it was digitally altered with a synthetic voice clone. In the original video, which was an interview given to Asian News International (ANI), the actor praised the prime minister and said the latter was celebrating India's cultural heritage.


Another video of actor Aamir Khan purportedly criticising an old 2013 statement made by then prime ministerial candidate Modi of depositing Rs 15 lakh in every Indian's bank account viral online. BOOM found that the claim was false after running it on Itisaar. The video uses an AI voice clone of Aamir Khan; the original video was from 2014 and was overlaid with a fake audio to depict Khan's criticism of the Union government.


Claims that were anti-BJP in nature carried claims with negative sentiments. For instance, a video clip showing PM Modi purportedly admitting to stealing as a child was viral on social media. In the video, Modi can be heard saying, "When I used to steal smaller things, if my mother had stopped me then, today I would not have become such a big thief." The video was shared on Instagram by INC Maharashtra with the caption, "See BJP's 'Chanda Mama' himself narrates his and his party's exploits!" However, BOOM found that the viral video had been cropped from a longer speech given by Modi where he was narrating a story about a thief and not talking about his experience. The original video was from April 10, 2021, during a rally addressed by PM Modi in Siliguri, West Bengal.


Claims targeting INC

Of the 20 fact-checks targeting the Congress party and its leaders, claims of half the fact-checks contained old and unrelated content. Unlike the BJP, majority of the claims were anti-Congress, 4 fact-checks were neutral in nature and 2 were pro-Congress.

8 out of 20 fact-checks focussed on false claims that were communal in nature. For instance, an image depicting a large gathering of people holding green flags at a Congress road show was circulated online claiming that the flags were Pakistani. BOOM's investigation revealed that the claims were unfounded. The photo was from 2019 and was taken in Wayanad, showing flags of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), a Kerala-based political party, and not flags of Pakistan.


Similarly, PM Modi in a campaign speech, misquoted former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's comments from a December 2006 speech, misleadingly claiming that the Congress leader said Muslims have the first right to India's resources. After reading the entire speech, BOOM found that Singh was not referring to the Muslim community alone but also to the SC/STs, OBCs, women and children.


Modi, in his speech also criticised the Congress party's manifesto and made remarks with communal undertones saying that if Congress assumes power, they would carry out a comprehensive survey of all assets in the country, including the gold owned by women, particularly tribal women, with the intention of redistributing assets equally. BOOM found that his claims were misleading. There is no explicit mention of Muslims in the manifesto and nowhere in it is the term "wealth redistribution" mentioned. Experts told BOOM that the manifesto suggests a need for policy assessment and data exploration rather than outlining specific wealth redistribution plans.

Claims targeting VVPATS

During the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections, a viral video claimed to show tampering of uncounted voting slips from VVPAT machines inside a strong room. BOOM found that the video was old, and the DM of Bhavnagar had refuted the claim in 2022. Speaking to BOOM, Bhavnagar Deputy Election Officer S Katara said that it was part of the procedure. He said, “After the counting is over, all the slips are transferred into black envelopes. The remaining rolls are kept aside. The EVM machines go their own way, and that is how the slips are drawn from the VVPAT. The procedure shown in the video is being followed properly.”


Medium, Intent and Type of Deception

68% of the 147 fact-checks were shared via videos, followed by images (21%) and texts (9.5%).

Regarding the intent behind spreading mis/disinformation, 71.4% of the total fact-checks were found to be sensationalist. This was followed by smear campaigns against political leaders (24.5%). Following this, the intent of spreading demographic anxiety (2.7%) was observed.


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55.8% of the total fact-checks consisted of false claims, followed by misleading content (21.8%) and manipulated content (13.6%).