2,500 social media propaganda accounts on government radar

NEW DELHI: The Centre is monitoring over 2,500 social media accounts which allegedly spread Chinese propaganda and disinformation on the Sino-Indian faceoff in eastern Ladakh, ET has learnt. The accounts active mainly on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have been traced to Pakistan, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Russia and China, according to official sources.

Document ET has seen says that a large number of the handles were operating in Pakistan. “Analysis revealed that the IP (internet protocol) address of the user was either in Pakistan, UK, Russia or China. In some countries where the social media is banned, it is being accessed through virtual private network (VPN),” said an official.

India is learnt to have flagged the issue with the respective social media companies and have managed to block some accounts spreading disinformation. However, a large number of them continue to operate and are under the watch list. “Many banned accounts reappear by changing handle names and details in the bio-data. In multiple cases, e-mail IDs and contacts numbers required for opening accounts on social networking sites were found identical,” the official said.

Propaganda by Chinese mouthpiece has been scaled up after August 29, when Indian Army thwarted a move by PLA and positioned itself at four strategic peaks around the south bank of Pangong Tso, the official said.

The IT ministry had recently banned over 175 Chinese apps alleging their “activities are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state and public order.” India and China have been engaged in a tense border standoff along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh since April. Violent clashes with the Chinese troops in Galwan on June 15 had resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers. New Delhi accused PLA of blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive manoeuvres, while conversations at military, diplomatic and political level were in progress.

China illegally occupies 38,000 sqkm in Ladakh and claims 90,000 sqkm in Arunachal Pradesh, according to India’s perception of the LAC. Differing perceptions on LAC have been a constant source of tension but both sides avoided clashes for 45 years through a bunch of protocols and tranquility agreements.

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