As the war between Israel and Hamas intensifies, microblogging platform X (formerly Twitter) has been inundated with an unprecedented amount of unverified images and videos being linked to the conflict - many of which have been fact-checked by BOOM for being false or misleading.
In April, Decode had reported on how accounts known for spreading disinformation and hate content were now armed with a Blue Tick, following Elon Musk's takeover of the platform, and had their posts prioritized by the changes made to the platform's algorithm at Musk's behest.
Following a thorough scrutiny of the posts made around the conflict, BOOM found several verified Indian X users helming a disinformation campaign, mostly targeting Palestine negatively, or being supportive of Israel.
We have compiled eight such accounts with blue ticks, who have been on overdrive in sharing posts around the conflict, with some of their claims being fact-checked as false or misleading.
हम लोग We The People (@ajaychauhan41)
One such user goes by the handle @ajaychauhan41, and have been fact-checked four times in the past four days for spreading disinformation around the Middle-Eastern conflict.
@ajaychauhan41 was one of the many users who shared an undated video showing an armed gunman record a video message inside a room where an elderly woman is seen lying on a bed, with the misleading claim that it shows a Hamas fighter killing the bedridden woman and her young female caregiver.
BOOM had the video translated by several Arabic-speaking fact-checkers, who confirmed to us that the soldier in the video states that the lives of the two women in the video were being spared.
The user also shared a behind-the-scenes footage from the Palestinian short film 'Empty Place' with a false claim that it shows Palestinians staging a scene using child actors to show Israeli soldiers killing children.
Yet another footage shared by the user showed a number of fighter jets flying in formation, with the claim that it shows Israel's counterattack against Hamas.
We found that the video is not real, and was taken from a combat flight simulator video game called DCS World.
The user also shared another video showing a few men being detained by some others in military uniform, with the claim that it shows high-ranking Israeli military officials being captured by Hamas.
We found that the men in the video were being arrested by Azerbaijan's State Security Service for operating illegal armed groups in the country as part of a separatist movement.
Yet another such verified user was @JIX5A, who has also shared a large number of posts related to the conflict. BOOM has fact-checked four posts made by the account since the conflict began.
The user shared the viral video from DCS World, along with the video showing the gunmen with the old bedridden woman, with the exact same false claims as @ajaychauhan41.
The user also shared an extremely graphic video showing a man beheading a young boy with the claim that it shows Hamas militants attacking Israeli children. BOOM found that the video depicted Syrian rebels decapitating a young boy near Aleppo in 2016.
A video showing Egyptian military para-gliders landing during a training session was falsely shared by this user as Hamas militants landing in Israel during the attack on October 7, 2023.
Other Blue Tick Disinfo Spreaders
Right-wing user @MrSinha_, who has been fact-checked by BOOM multiple times, also shared the graphic video of decapitation by Syrian rebels, falsely linking it to Hamas' attack on Israel.
Two other verified right-leaning users, @MeghUpdates and @ippatel - also frequently fact-checked by BOOM - shared old and unrelated imagery, falsely linking it to the ongoing conflict.
@MeghUpdates shared an old photo of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeing his son off for military service, and falsely claimed that it was a recent photo showing his son leaving to fight Hamas.
@ippatel shared a 2014 video of ISIS destroying a dargah in Syria, while falsely claiming that it shows Israeli forces attacking a mosque in Gaza during the ongoing conflict.
An old video of Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking about nuclear war has been mistranslated and shared by another right-leaning user @indicfaith, as a recent video of Putin stating his support for Palestine, and warning the United States to not interfere in the conflict.
BOOM found that the video is from December 2022 and shows Putin discussing the threat of nuclear war.
A video of fireworks lighting up the night sky in Algiers, Algeria during a celebration by football fans was shared on X with a false claim that it shows Israeli retaliatory airstrikes in Gaza.
The video was shared with the same claim, but with two completely opposite narratives. Verified user @greenysoulin shared it to commend Israel on its counter-offensive, while another user @zaidlala786 shared it to condemn the counter-attack.
Elon Musk And X Under Fire
Following the current onslaught of disinformation around the conflict, microblogging platform X has come under scrutiny for failing to take sufficient measures to curb the issue.
Furthermore, the European Union has also issued a warning to Elon Musk for the alleged spread of disinformation on the ongoing turmoil in the Middle-East, which include fake news and "repurposed old images".
According to the written warning, failure to moderate content on the platform could subject Musk to a penalty of 6% of his earnings from the platform, or even a complete cessation of operations within the EU.
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