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Twitter flags BJPs Patras tweet manipulated media, a step to stop falsity
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Twitter flags BJP's Patra's tweet 'manipulated media', a step to stop falsity


New Delhi: The recent move by Twitter labelling suspicious tweets as 'manipulated media', posted to target particular groups or persons can be termed a step towards ending paid messaging and canard being published and circulated through social media.

Twitter has begun this move by flagging 'manipulated media' on a tweet posted by BJP's spokesperson Sambit Patra in which he alleged Congress had prepared a toolkit to target the Modi government.

The decision to flag Patra's tweet came late on Thursday evening after Congress complained to Twitter that the ensemble of pages, circulated as the party's 'toolkit' by top BJP leaders, was fake. Earlier, a comprehensive analysis by Alt News has revealed that the AICC Research Department letterhead has been tampered with in the toolkit document and the document which the BJP's top leadership has been disseminating on social media was fake and forged.

Screenshot of Sambit Patra's tweet on what the BJP claimed was the Congress party's 'Covid-19 Toolkit'. Twitter has marked it as 'manipulated media'

The Congress Party on Thursday had written to Twitter asking it to permanently suspend the accounts of BJP leaders including party chief JP Nadda and Union minister Smriti Irani for allegedly "spreading misinformation and unrest in the society". The opposition party has insisted that the toolkit documents flagged by the BJP are "fake" and has filed a police complaint against its leaders. The Chhattisgarh police have registered an FIR to probe the matter.

The BJP has been attacking Congress over some controversial content of the so-called toolkit. BJP and RSS leaders including Patra posted the alleged toolkit to attack Congress on social media with the tag #CongressToolKitExposed. The document contained a range of purported social media directives for party workers to use to attack the prime minister for his disastrous handling of the current wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

BJP leaders also said that since the 'toolkit' attempted to singularly blame the pilgrims who attended the Kumbh Mela for being super-spreaders and absolve those who attended Eid gatherings, this proved the Congress's 'anti-Hindu' bias and intent to cause communal disharmony and civil unrest in the country.

Patra's tweet, now labelled "manipulated media" had posted a document and said, "Friends look at the #CongressToolKit in extending help to the needy during the Pandemic! More of a PR exercise with the help of Friendly Journalists & Influencers than a soulful endeavour. Read for yourselves the agenda of the Congress".

Twitter's decision to officially flag Patra's tweet as "manipulated media" is being considered a major victory by Congress leaders. In a report by The Wire, a Congress social media team member quoted as saying that "The BJP accused us of playing with people's sorrows at a time when the party has been making an all-out effort to ramp up its relief efforts. Only a party like BJP can stoop so low"

The action of Twitter is being seen as a setback for the BJP, which has already been facing widespread criticism over its handling of the pandemic.

So far Patra is the only high profile Sangh Parivar personality to have his or her tweet tagged as manipulated. Apart from Patra, right-wing influencer Shefali Vadiya's tweet containing the same content was also tagged as "manipulated media".

It is still unclear whether the social media giant starts a process that will see similar tweets – including by prominent ministers – labelled with the same warning. Or if Twitter's action will be confined to 'low hanging fruit' like Patra and others who do not hold ministerial office.

Earlier, the social media company has come under pressure from the Modi government in the past for not implementing official diktats like blocking Twitter handles flagged by the ministry of information and technology.

Earlier this month, Twitter had permanently suspended the account of Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut for violating its guidelines on hate speech.

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TAGS:TwitterSambit patraManipulated MediaBJP
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