A Pakistan-based hardline group is suspected to have been involved in doctoring images and spreading them across social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to incite Muslims and create a scare among people of the North-Eastern region living across India.

Most of the online content started getting posted from July 13 and fake profiles were created for spreading morphed pictures, according to a Home Ministry report prepared in the wake of the mass exodus of people belonging to the North-East from Bangalore, Pune, Chennai and Mumbai following rumours about possible attacks on them.

“Pictures have been taken from different places such as Tibet earthquake, Thailand, etc, and most of the fake profiles have been created since the end of July,” the report, a copy of which was with PTI, said.

The ‘Preliminary report on use of social media to generate unrest and violence among different communities’ said that some Indians, who had uploaded the online content, images and videos, have linked the Myanmar and Assam issues.

“It is just a small sample of what is available, most of the posts are in vernacular mediums, translation of which have not been attempted,” it said.

The report noted that social media, e-mail, Internet chat rooms and VOIP calls were rampantly being used to spread disinformation and rumours to provoke unrest in Assam and other parts of the country.

“Within a short duration, threats and counter-threats have been spread far and wide using the digital media. A lot many threats have been made in the open while certain plans and coordination activities are being carried out in chat rooms and on mails.

“These unidentified Muslim extremists are waging an online campaign after the outbreak of violent clashes in Myanmar between Buddhists and Muslims,” it said.

These elements are using the Internet and its social media sites for the dissemination of exaggerated accounts of the violence in Assam and for re-circulating fabricated evidence to inflame the passions of Muslims in different parts of India during the fasting period of Ramzan, it said.

The investigators have also found that those behind the online content indicated a step-up in violence after Eid.

The report also said that fake profiles were created around the end of last month to push the online content aggressively on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to provoke violence.

In the online campaign, the Assam violence has been shown as part of events where Muslims were allegedly being persecuted.

(This article was published on August 19, 2012)
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