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Inside the vast digital campaign by Hindu nationalists to inflame India


Mar 14, 2017
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United Kingdom
MUDBIDRI, India — At first, the WhatsApp messages touted roads paved, schools built, free food distributed to the poor — all the usual pitches from a government during election season. But as May drew closer, the messages turned darker.
One viral post that landed in Sachin Patil’s iPhone listed the names of 24 local Hindu men it said were murdered by Muslims. Another mass message warned of Hindu girls being groomed by Muslim men to join the Islamic State. Yet another viral post that reached Patil made an urgent appeal to vote: “If the BJP is here, your children will be safe. Hindus will be safe.”

By the time election day arrived here in south India’s Karnataka state, Patil, a 25-year-old bank teller in a sleepy village outside Mangaluru, said he was receiving 120 political messages a day in six WhatsApp groups. “They were definitely a reminder,” Patil said, to cast a ballot for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party that governs India.
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The BJP, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and affiliated Hindu nationalist groups have been in the global vanguard of using social media for political aims — to advance their ideology and cement their grip over the world’s largest electoral democracy. They have perfected the spread of inflammatory, often false and bigoted material on an industrial scale, earning both envy and condemnation beyond India’s borders.

Central to the success of the BJP, a party with 180 million members, is a massive messaging machine built on top of U.S. social media platforms. It is part of a wider effort by the right-wing forces aligned with Modi to wield technology in various ways — and restrict its use by opponents — in pursuit of a Hindu nationalist agenda that seeks to marginalize religious minorities and suppress criticism.

As hate speech and disinformation in India have grown in recent years, Silicon Valley giants have at times tried to police this incendiary content. But often they have struggled — or willingly turned a blind eye.

Most of the pajeets on this forum are a part of this network, spreading misinformation. IDK why the admin tolerate them.

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