How tweets, lies from India fuelled Leicester unrest

Rumour had it that a Muslim girl had been abducted and a Hindu temple had despatched masked thugs into fight. Add in neighborhood fury over an India-Pakistan cricket match, and Hindu and Muslim guys were soon combating at the streets of valuable England.

It become a social media typhoon — broadly speaking cooked up a continent away — that materialised in real existence in Leicester, where police made almost 50 arrests and a community changed into left in tatters.”It is a powerful instance of how hashtag dynamics on Twitter can use dubious inflammatory claims to … Amplify tensions on the floor,” said a spokesperson at reality-checking website online Logically, which analysed the posts’ veracity.

Experts say maximum of the incendiary tweets, rumours and lies got here from India, displaying the energy of unchecked social media to unfold disinformation and stir unrest a full continent away.I’ve seen quite a variety of the social media stuff which may be very, very, very distorting now and a number of it simply absolutely lying about what had been happening between one of a kind communities,” Peter Soulsby, Leicester’s mayor, informed BBC radio.

Rob Nixon, who runs Leicestershire Police, concurred, telling the BBC that misinformation on social media had performed a “big function” in final month’s unrest. To counter a number of those claims, police took to social media themselves, saying they’d completely investigated reports of three men coming near a teenaged woman in an tried kidnap, and determined no reality in any way to the net story.

“We urge you to best share information on social media to be genuine,” they said.

Fact-checkers additionally observed no truth to claims that gangs of masked thugs had been bussed into Leicester. Many of the deceptive posts alleging that Hindus and Hindu web sites had been being attacked got here from India, analysis confirmed.

Some 80% of tweets with geographic coordinates, or geo-tagged information, had been connected to India, Logically said. “The ratio of tweets geo-tagged to the UK versus the ones geo-tagged to India changed into remarkably excessive for what, ostensibly, became a home incident,” a spokesperson instructed the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“The involvement of high-profile figures in India putting the discourse turned into a key detail.” BBC Monitoring stated that greater than half of the 200,000 tweets it investigated got here from debts geo-tagged to India, with hashtags along with #Leicester, #HindusUnderAttack and #HindusUnderattackinUK. Twitter did now not reply to a request for comment.The reality-exams showed what several Leicester residents had suspected for years: online disinformation and abuse aimed at religious minorities came increasingly from customers in India, and structures had been doing little or not anything to test it.

“The events in Leicester did now not appear suddenly,” said Keval Bharadia at the South Asia Solidarity Group, a British community non-earnings. “Friends and family had been sending faux news and misinformation for years. It is a by no means-ending flow of propaganda from troll armies,” he said.

A spokesman for India’s ministry of home affairs did no longer reply to a request for remark. The Indian High Commission in London, in a announcement, stated it “strongly” condemned the violence against the Indian network in Leicester, and the vandalism of “premises and emblems of Hindu faith”.

Some commentators and rights corporations say India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has a hand within the social-media struggle that goals spiritual and ethnic minorities.

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