- According to the analysis, Iranian trolls are spreading anti-Hindu stereotypes to the fuel hatred through impact campaigns accusing Hindus of genocide against Indian minorities.
- The report also found how white supremacists shared genocidal memes about Hindus which were shared prolifically within extremist Islamist web networks on messaging service Telegram and others.
- Memes associated with pajeet found on Twitter openly called to violently kill Hindus, while extremists used memes to suggest a repeat of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, Nazi style executions should be done to Hindus.
Social media platforms, civil society organizations, and media are largely unfamiliar with Hinduphobia today. But a study from Rutgers university has shown that anti-Hindu disinformation and propaganda in the form of memes and hashtags is currently growing prolifically on online platforms. Members of the Network Contagion Lab at Rutgers University-New Brunswick (NC Lab), found evidence of a surge in hate speech and evolving patterns targeting the Hindu community on numerous social media platforms. The findings have been published in their report that was recently released. https://t.co/gZx79Zquaa
Researchers at Rutgers NC Lab used artificial intelligence to better understand the evolution of disguised and encoded language patterns shared on social networks. According to an analysis of one million tweets, Iranian trolls are spreading anti-Hindu stereotypes to the fuel hatred throught impact campaigns accusing Hindus of genocide against Indian minorities.
The report also found how white supremacists shared genocidal memes about Hindus which were shared prolifically within extremist Islamist web networks on messaging service Telegram and others. It explains how it is widely shared on the religious web network to fuel hatred. In July, signals from Hindu codewords and memes reached record highs, leading to real-world violence, especially given rise to religious tensions in India. Social media platforms are largely unaware of codewords, key images, and the structured nature of this hatred, even if this hatred surges, shows the report.
The report found that 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 haters 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”, says the report.
White Supremacist & Islamist communities refer to Indians as “pajeets” on fringe web platforms (4chan, gab). This is rapidly growing in mainstream communities too. Using Word2Vec, a Natural Language Processing Algorithm, the researchers found that the word associations with “pajeet” are derogatory characterizations. Their analysis suggests that pajeet is used in reference to Hindus & Indians interchangeably, with the majority of derogatory characterizations targeted towards Hindus. Distinctly Hindu symbols are used in memes referencing pajeet, and not other Indian 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 Indians. Memes associated with pajeet found on Twitter openly called to violently kill Hindus. Extremists used 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.
The researchers called on platforms to recognize the growing ethnic disinformation and the harmful impacts this can have on Hindu communities. “This is essential for better detection”, urge the researchers. Chief data scientist at the NCRI and a senior research fellow at the Miller Center, Joel Finkelstein, who directed the student research says educating young people on how to recognize open source hatred messages is an important first step in helping vulnerable communities respond to new threats. Rutgers previous work has shown a link between the intensity of hate speech on social media and the outbreak of real-world violence. “We hope the report will serve as a timely warning before hate speech leads to real-world violence,” said Denver Riggleman, a former U.S. Congressman and Miller Center researcher and visiting scholar.