ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Election Fact-Check Analysis: Videos Dominated Disinformation During LS Polls

With 24 fact-checks, the second phase saw Team WebQoof publish the most number of stories during an election phase.

Published
WebQoof
5 min read
story-hero-img
i
Aa
Aa
Small
Aa
Medium
Aa
Large

With the Lok Sabha Elections results being declared a month ago, social media platforms saw an arguably unprecedented battle between the two biggest alliances – the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA).

A closer look at the campaigns showed that both factions resorted to peddling mis/disinformation on the internet in order to promote themselves and 'convince' voters to vote for them.

Team WebQoof analysed its 110 fact-check stories published between 18 April to 4 June to track the kind of disinformation that went viral during different phases of the general elections and found that video dominated the disinformation narratives during the polls.

We found that the second phase saw the most number of viral pieces of misinformation on the internet and the fourth phase was a close second.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

This report will dive deeper into the kind of claims that were shared during the seven phases of general elections. It would answer other questions as well, such as:

  • Which alliance shared the most pieces of mis/disinformation?

  • Who was targeted the most?

  • What kind of visual element was used the most?

The Battle of Narratives: What Were the Top Four Topics?

While the war of narratives was aggressive during the election season, we have classified the four most viral categories that these narratives targeted.

  • 22 published stories addressed communally charged or claims falsely given a communal angle. (Note: Some of these stories were placed under two or more categories due to the nature of claims.)

Sample this: An image showing several burqa-clad women and a woman dressed in a saree was shared with a claim insinuating that Muslims were coming out to vote in the majority while Hindus weren't.

'Mr Sinha', a user who has been called out for spreading disinformation on several occasions, shared the post, which received over seven lakh views.

With 24 fact-checks, the second phase saw Team WebQoof publish the most number of stories during an election phase.

An archive can be seen here.

(Source: X (formerly Twitter)/Screenshot)

The second category were the claims that questioned the authenticity of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and legitimacy of the elections. We identified 12 such posts that our team addressed during the elections.

We also published five 'Neta Fact-Checks' – fact-checks on misleading or false statements made by prominent political leaders.

For example: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while campaigning in Rajasthan, targeted the Indian National Congress and said that the party had claimed that Muslims had the 'first right' to the nation's wealth when it was in power. PM Modi also made several remarks on the Congress manifesto.

However, the prime minister's claims were misleading and lacking facts. Our carousel below explains three such claims that Team WebQoof fact checked.

The fourth category showed misleading posts made around a political party's election manifesto. The number of stories addressing these claims were four.

Watch our video below to find out how several such misleading claims were made against the Congress party's manifesto.

Who Shared the Most Pieces of Misinformation?

While some prominent leaders shared misinformation during their election speeches as seen in the above video, members of both alliances peddled fake and misleading claims via social media platforms.

Our dataset (of 66 claims) showed that the NDA alliance shared 13 fake or misleading claims (19.69 percent) during the elections, with INDIA coming at the second place with 12 such claims (18.18 percent).

For instance, the All India Trinamool Congress' (TMC) X account shared a video claiming that PM Modi was seen accepting upside-down artwork depicting Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore.

This was also shared by TMC MP Sagarika Ghose, who took a dig at PM Modi.

With 24 fact-checks, the second phase saw Team WebQoof publish the most number of stories during an election phase.

TMC's handle and leaders shared these visuals.

(Source: X/Screenshot)

However, we found that the video was clipped. A longer version showed PM Modi realising the error and rectifying it promptly.

The mudslinging continued from both ends. Assam Chief Minister and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma shared an image of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi claiming that the latter was seen holding a copy of the Chinese constitution.

Team WebQoof found Sarma's claims to be false as Gandhi was carrying a coat pocket version of the Indian Constitution. Watch the video below for more details.

Other than the parties, premium subscribers of the platform X were responsible for spreading the most amount of mis/disinformation with around 41 claims, which came up to 62.12 percent.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

This was expected as a similar trend was seen during the 2023 Karnataka assembly elections. Team WebQoof had written about how the distribution of blue badges without 'true verification' would amplify the spread of mis/disinformation on the platform.

With 24 fact-checks, the second phase saw Team WebQoof publish the most number of stories during an election phase.

The report was published on 1 June 2023.

(Source: The Quint)

Which Alliance Was Targeted the Most?

While INDIA leaders were targeted the most, the number of fake posts around NDA leaders make up to an extremely close second.

On going through our dataset, we found that 34 and 35 misleading and fake claims went viral around the NDA and INDIA politicians, respectively.

Video Remained the Most Used Media Type To Spread Mis/Disinformation

The Quint's WebQoof analysis of its 110 fact-check stories showed that video remained the most dominant media type, when it came to social media users spreading mis/disinformation.

Around 75 claims were shared in the video format, which was 68.18 percent of the total number. This was followed by 25 fact-check stories (22.72 percent), where the claims were circulated in the form of an image.

Finally, news clippings and other posts carrying only texts were put under the 'text' category. These were 10 in number and around 9.09 percent of the total claims.

This analysis makes it clear that both the alliances resorted to peddling mis/disinformation on social media platforms. It also raises a concern about the kind of narratives and tools that will be used in the future elections.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

The Beginning of the Deepfake Era in Elections

The Lok Sabha Elections saw a fair amount of manipulated video and audio using the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools. On 15 April, an edited clip of Rahul Gandhi went viral claiming that he has resigned from the Congress party ahead of the first phase.

A few days later, videos of Bollywood actors Aamir Khan and Ranveer Singh had gone viral with users claiming that they were seen supporting the Congress party. However, both the clips were manipulated.

While deepfakes and AI tools did not play a significant part during this general elections, however, it is entirely possible that it would be used to swing voters during future election seasons.

(Not convinced of a post or information you came across online and want it verified? Send us the details on WhatsApp at 9540511818 , or e-mail it to us at webqoof@thequint.com and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
Read More
×
×