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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Anti-Hindu Disinformation: A Case Study of Hinduphobia on Social Media

NCRI’s latest paper on “Anti-Hindu Disinformation: A Case Study of Hinduphobia on Social Media.” was released today on KQED/NPR- Rutgers Press Release; KQED report

Anti-Hindu Disinformation is masked through the use of ethnic pejoratives, slurs and coded language. Here’s an example of a meme associated with Hindus titled “Poo in the Loo” using the antisemitic Happy Merchant Meme. This shows how ethnic hates share effective memetic material.

“Hinduphobic tropes — such as the portrayal of Hindus as fundamentally heretical evil, dirty, tyrannical, genocidal, irredeemable or disloyal— are prominent across the ideological spectrum and are being deployed by fringe web communities and state actors alike.”

White Supremacist and Islamist communities refer to Bharatiyas as “pajeets” on fringe web platforms (4chan, gab). This is rapidly growing on mainstream communities too, including using Word2Vec, a Natural Language Processing Algorithm, we find the word associations with “pajeet” are derogatory characterizations.

Our qualitative analysis suggests that pajeet is used in reference to Hindus and Bharatiyas interchangeably, with majority of derogatory characterizations targeted towards Hindus. Distinctly Hindu symbols are used in memes referencing pajeet, and not other Bharatiya religions.

The Chabad Synagogue shooter in 2019, had referenced “pajeets” in the manifesto. It has also been used in white nationalist podcasts about murderous fantasies about Bharatiyas.

Below are memes associated with pajeet found on Twitter, openly calling to violently kill Hindus. Extremists use memes to suggest a repeat of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, Nazi style executions and co-opt the murder of George Floyd to suggest the same should be done to Hindus.

In addition to extremist groups and fringe web communities, state actors also deploy anti-Hindu tropes as part of information operations for geopolitical influence. We uncovered an influence operation by state sponsored Iranian trolls who pretended to be Pakistani users.

During the March 2017 Bhopal–Ujjain Passenger train bombing by ISIS, Iranian trolls, pretending to be Pakistani, attempted a disinformation campaign to suggest that the attack was done by “Hindu Extremists,” and attempted to get it trending.

We call on platforms to recognize the growing ethnic disinformation and the harmful impacts this can have on Hindu communities. This is essential for better detection.

For more, see our full report found here:

Special thanks to authors @PsychRabble @RepRiggleman and John Farmer as well as @indumathi37 and @AlexWGoldenberg for their editorial input.

This article has been compiled from the tweet thread originally tweeted by Network Contagion Research Institute (@ncri_io) on July 13, 2022.

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