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In a first, Twitter flags BJP IT cell head’s tweet on farmers protest as ‘manipulated media’

Twitter has flagged a tweet by BJP’s IT cell head Amit Malviya on the ongoing farmers’ protest as ‘manipulated media’ — an audio-visual piece of content which has been “significantly and deceptively altered or fabricated”. This is perhaps the first instance when Twitter has applied this label to an Indian user’s tweet, ever since it rolled out its policy on dealing with manipulated media in February this year. Apart from Malviya’s tweet, Twitter also flagged the same video shared by conservative Twitter account @PoliticalKida, AltNews co-founder Mohammed Zubair pointed out.

Apart from flagging Malviya’s tweet as a piece of misinformation, Twitter is also reminding users that the tweet contains manipulated media when they attempt to share it further. It is worth noting that the tweet in question was made by Malviya on November 28, and Twitter flagged it as misinformation December 2, after fact checking platforms had debunked the misinformation in Malviya’s tweet.

What was the misinformation spread by Malviya? Malviya had tweeted a video claiming that a law enforcement personnel hadn’t beaten a protesting farmer. His tweet had come in response to an earlier tweet made by Indian National Congress’ Rahul Gandhi, where he had shared an image of the law enforcement agent attempting to hit a protesting farmer. Malviya tried claiming that the security personnel was merely trying to intimidate the farmer, and not actually hit him.

Debunking misinformation spread by Malviya: However, later, fact checks carried out by Boomlive and AltNews found that Malviya had only shared a cropped portion of a longer video. AltNews found out that a longer version of the video showed two security personnel trying to hit a number of protesting farmers one after the other. But, Malviya only picked the portion from that full video where the law enforcement personnel’s swinging baton had narrowly missed the farmer.

Boomlive got in touch with the elderly farmer who was the subject of Malviya’s video, and found out that he had sustained injuries to his forearm, back and calf muscle. This suggested that while the security personnel in that particular video might have missed his shot on the farmer, security forces have used force against the protesting farmers, contrary to what Malviya was trying to portray by sharing the cropped video.

The BJP IT Cell chief head has been known to frequently spread misinformation on social media sites, documented by AltNews here.

Twitter’s policy on manipulated media

Twitter “may” label tweets containing synthetic and manipulated media, including videos, audio and images, and will remove such content, if they are “deceptively shared,” and pose “serious harm”. Users will be able to get more information from “reputable sources” on a piece of content labelled as “manipulated media”.

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