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Cyber army 'disinformation': India among seven countries rated as top global influencers

By Our Representative
An Oxford University study, “The Global Disinformation Order 2019”, has found that India is one of the seven top countries around the world where “a handful of sophisticated state actors use computational propaganda for foreign influence operations”. It adds, Facebook and Twitter has identified India, along with China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, which use the two social media platforms “to influence global audiences.”
Authored by Samantha Bradshaw and Philip N Howard, the study examines “cyber troop activity” in 70 countries, pointing out, the “foreign influence operations” in the seven countries are carried out as “highly secretive phenomenon”, adding, it acquires the form or “social media manipulation” by “politicians, political parties, private contractors, civil society organizations (CSOs), citizens and influencers.”
Tracking the prevalence of fake accounts, the study states, in India bots and humans are used for this by cyber armies in India. While bots are called “are highly automated accounts designed to mimic human behaviour online”, and are used for amplifying narratives to “drown out political dissent”, the study believes, “Even more common than bots are human-run accounts, which do not make use of automation. Instead they engage in conversations by posting comments or tweets, or by private messaging individuals via social media platforms.”
Countries attributed by Facebook, Twitter for engaging in foreign influence operations
According to the study, cyber troops in India seek to engage in conversations with users online in order to spreading pro-government or pro-party propaganda, attacking the opposition, even as mounting smear campaigns; seek to drive divisions and polarization, and suppressing participation “through personal attacks or harassment.”
The study identifies India among the “medium-capacity” countries for such operations, the study says, the country has “multiple teams” doing this having the size ranging from 50 to 300 people, which is done through “multiple contracts” and advertising, whose expenditure values a whopping 1.4M USD.

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