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India Tops Global Risk Ranking for Misinformation and Disinformation: WEF Report

New York: The Global Risk Report of the World Economic Forum has been released, highlighting India as facing the highest risk of misinformation and disinformation in the world. The report underscores the critical threat posed by false information during elections, with India’s general election expected between April and May 2024.

According to details, the Global Risk Report of the World Economic Forum identifies the election of the Modi government in India as a significant source for the spread of propaganda and false statements. The report states that there is a risk of increasing social cleavages and polarization in India. It further asserts that the Modi government and other political parties are using mass disinformation on a large scale for temporary political gains and success in elections.

The survey, conducted among 1,490 experts across academia, business, government, and civil society, indicates that misinformation and disinformation could undermine the legitimacy of newly-elected governments, potentially leading to political unrest, violence, terrorism, and a long-term erosion of democratic processes.

The report designates the spread of false and misleading information as the most significant threat to India for the next 10 years. It expresses concern that the widespread use of propaganda and false statements in India can lead to urban unrest, protests, and hate crimes.

According to the Global Risk Report, the dissemination of false information can have negative effects on the social cohesion and mental health of the Indian population. The report mentions the pressure from the BJP government in India, where in January last year,  the Modi government pressured social media platforms to remove the links to a BBC investigative documentary about Modi’s involvement in the Gujrat Riots that claimed the lives of around 2,000 people, mostly Muslims. Twitter and YouTube agreed to remove links to the documentary in India.

The report highlights that these actions of spreading false information also underscore the involvement of social media in political agendas. It’s worth noting that the rise of false information and the decline of press freedom in countries are interconnected. In the Press Freedom Index, India was ranked 161 out of 180 countries last year.

In a similar context, The Washington Post exposed the propaganda of India’s Disinfo Lab in 2020. The purpose of this organization is to improve the international image of the Modi government by spreading baseless and false propaganda.

The BJP is reportedly involved in disseminating anti-Muslim content on social media platforms with the aim of gaining support from radical Hindus. The Washington Post states that the party has organized an extensive network of more than 150,000 social media operatives for this objective.

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