Abrar Ifaz

Research Officer, Dismislab
Dissemination of disinformation in the recent Israel-Hamas conflict
This article is more than 6 months old

Dissemination of disinformation in the recent Israel-Hamas conflict

Abrar Ifaz

Research Officer, Dismislab

During any major accident or war, violence, fake and misleading information is seen spreading on social media. The same picture can be seen in the recent violence between Israel and the Palestinian armed group Hamas. Fake information and videos are spreading around this conflict.

Several posts (1, 2, 3, 4) have appeared on social media Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) in which the Taliban government of Afghanistan has sought permission from Iran, Jordan and Iraq to wage war against Israel. However, no such news was found to be true. In a statement published on Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ X (formerly Twitter) account, the Taliban government said it was closely monitoring the Palestine-Israel issue. They expressed solidarity with Palestine and called on the Muslim world and organizations to come forward to solve this problem. But there was no word in the Taliban statement asking for permission to send troops to fight Israel.

Another fake photo shows that Hamas has advertised captive Israelis for sale on Amazon.com – some of these posts have gone viral on Facebook (1, 2, 3). But no such ad was found on Amazon Egypt’s site. The ‘screenshot’ was shared on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) on 8 October (1, 2, 3). This was first featured on a Facebook page named Turkiyepedia. Later, many users mistakenly took this image for real (1, 2, 3).

Fake posts regarding Hamas advertising captive Israelis for sale

Another video has been circulating that claims Hamas soldiers are parachuting into a building in Israel. But fact-checking organization BOOM reports that it is actually a video of paratroopers training at Egypt’s military academy.

Fake posts regarding Hamas advertising captive Israelis for sale

A video of a child’s throat being slit was shared on social media X (formerly Twitter) and the hashtags #IsraelUnderAttack #IslamIsTheProblem #HamasTerrorists were used along with the video. Many in the same post identified it as an old video. Later this post spread on Facebook and X. According to BOOM, this video is from a 2016 incident in Aleppo, Syria.

Another video circulating on social media shows: Hamas shooting down Israeli helicopters. A Bangladeshi tv channel also shared this video but later they removed it. According to Newschecker’s factcheck report, this is actually footage from a video game.

Some videos of the destruction of Gaza towers under Israel’s counter-operation Iron Swords, transporting fighter jets, chanting of “Death to America” in Iran’s parliament have been circulated on social media. BOOM reports that these videos are old.

Fake photo-card of BNP’s secretary general regarding the recent conflict

Different fake information has been spread in Bangladesh about this conflict. “Demanding for the peace of Palestine is not in our agenda” – such a statement was circulated in the name of BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir. However, fact-checking site Rumor Scanner reports, Mirza Fakhrul did not give any such statement. Another statement in the name of Mirza Fakhrul was shared on Facebook where he was reported to have protested the terrorist attacks by Hamas. Later Prothom Alo identified this information as fake news.

On October 7, the Palestinian armed organization Hamas attacked Israel. After that, false pictures, videos and news started to spread on social media regarding the attack. Poynter has published an article with some tips on how to spot such false information. Poynter says identifying fake news about the Gaza war requires answering three questions about each piece of information:

1) Who is behind the information? Inquiring about who is the supplier of the information and with which organization it is associated.

2) What is the evidence? If you find an image or video, download it or take a screenshot and find the source of that image or video through Google Lens or TinEye.

3) What do other sources say? Instead of relying on social media, follow trusted media.