Manipulated media: Twitter flags BJP IT cell chief’s post

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |

Updated: December 3, 2020 7:13:15 am

Malviya tweeted in response to Rahul Gandhi’s post.

Twitter on Wednesday tagged a tweet by BJP IT Cell head Amit Malviya as “manipulated media”, the first time the feature has shown up on timelines in India.

On November 28, Malviya, responding to a tweet by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who had posted a photograph of a policeman swinging a baton at an elderly man during the ongoing farmer protests, put out a video titled “Propaganda vs Reality”. Along with the video, Malviya tweeted: “Rahul Gandhi must be the most discredited opposition leader India has seen in a long time.”

His tweet suggested that the photograph taken by PTI photojournalist Ravi Choudhary, which was tweeted by Rahul Gandhi, was wrong because the policeman had not actually hit the farmer.

On Wednesday, Twitter tagged Malviya’s tweet as “manipulated media”. An accompanying note, which gave context to why it was deemed manipulated, said fact-checking site BoomLive had “analysed a longer un-edited video which shows a second officer swinging his baton at the man” and also “identified the farmer, who stated that he was hit and showed bruises he said were from the incident”.

“They can say I have not been hit but I am right here if they want to come and see my injuries,” Sukhdev Singh, the farmer from Sangojla in Kapurthala district of Punjab, told Boom Live.

Malviya did not respond to phone calls from The Indian Express for comment.

Responding to a query, a Twitter spokesperson said, “The referenced Tweet was labeled based on our Synthetic and Manipulated Media policy.”

Twitter’s “Synthetic and manipulated media policy” was introduced in February 2020 to help users determine fabricated content. During the recently concluded US elections, these labels appeared across many tweets, even many posted by US President Donald Trump.

The manipulated media policy states that Twitter “may label Tweets that include media (videos, audio, and images) that have been deceptively altered or fabricated”. It adds: “You may not share deceptively altered media on Twitter in ways that mislead or deceive people about the media’s authenticity where threats to physical safety or other serious harm may result.” Along with the labels, the company also reduces the visibility of such posts.

Earlier this year, Twitter started labelling handles of government-funded media organisations, party operatives and government officials as well. These labels have not yet been activated in India.

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