Disinformation and Propaganda Campaign to Sabotage Afghan Peace Process

Overview

G5iO undertook extensive data analytics to deconstruct coordinated disinformation and info-ops being undertaken by both India and Afghanistan to derail Afghan Peace Process and target Pakistan.

Evidence indicates extensive use of bots, coordinated network behavior and fake news pushed across multiple SM platforms.

Frequency and intensity of these campaigns increased dramatically over the last 3 months once:

  • US announced a final withdrawal date
  • The Taliban gained military victories

Methodology

  • Twitter data was scraped from May 2020 – Aug 2021
  • The data indicated key narratives, networks and user accounts running disinformation operations
  • Insights were developed using comparative analysis of online hashtag activity with offline political and regional security events
  • Artificial activity was defined as any activity from accounts that were engaging in platform manipulation, were recently created and pushing inorganic content

Key Narratives

Key narratives in the coordinated disinformation campaign led by India and Afghanistan are as follows:

Timeline

The following outlines the social media hashtags centered on state run disinformation campaigns by both India and Afghanistan:

Details of Coordinated Network Activity

The following highlights how most of these campaigns:

  • were built on common narratives being propagated by both countries
  • comprised of known state linked accounts
  • comprised of a considerable level of artificial activity

Example: #SanctionPakistan

The hashtag #SanctionPakistan presents a good example of the analysis above

  • It was used intermittently since June 2016 by Indian backed propaganda accounts.
  • This changed in June 2021, when it was pushed mostly by Afghan backed accounts

  • Even now, more than half of the content linked to this propaganda campaign is emanating from Afghanistan

  • The same hashtag was artificially pushed on 9th and 10th August by mostly Indian and Afghan sponsored accounts to around 500k+ tweets; out of which 65% of the activity was artificially generated. The graphs below show clear spikes in such artificial activity during the mentioned times

Sample of #SanctionPakistan content pushed on 10th August from Afghan, Indian and domestic hostile networks.

Sample of Content propagated

The following hashtags & tweets present just a glimpse of the kind of content & narratives being pushed by both Indian & Afghan sponsored content mills.

Pushed by India

#CivilWarInPakistan

#BlacklistPakistan

#14AugustBlackDay

#MutinyInPakArmy

#DroneAttack

#SanctionPakistan (July 2021)

#PakistanLostInLaghman

Annex: Disinformation Campaign Against Pakistan

#PakMustStopProxyWarInAfg

  • Total Tweets: 439
  • Potential Reach: 273780
  • Started On: 2021-06-15 | 09:21:00
  • Started By: @I_Jabarkhail
  • Bot Activity: 22.19%
  • Top Tweeting Location: Afghanistan
  • Key People: @sohailnoorkhan, @I_Jabarkhail

#PakistanLostInLaghman

  • Total Tweets: 5451
  • Potential Reach: 5138530
  • Started On: 2021-05-27 | 18:24:56
  • Started By: @ata_afghanistan
  • Bot Activity: 33.8%
  • Top Tweeting Location: Afghanistan
  • Key People: @kabul_voice

#PakistanAgainstNSA

  • Total Tweets: 9877
  • Potential Reach: 10938566
  • Started On: 2021-06-07 | 18:17:10
  • Started By: @lufvmwecdwsrw6r
  • Bot Activity: 36.1%
  • Top Tweeting Location: Afghanistan
  • Key People: @t0bhdhkursjx5zw, @anisfrotan

#EndPakProxyWarInAfg

  • Total Tweets: 18593
  • Potential Reach: 35917606
  • Started On: 2021-07-09 | 20:27:10
  • Started By: @afghan_youths
  • Bot Activity: 35.4%
  • Top Tweeting Location: Afghanistan
  • Key People: @pashtonnaseer, @achakzai__raziq

#StopPakistaniInvasion

  • Total Tweets: 6438
  • Potential Reach: 7538662
  • Started On: 2021-07-09 | 20:27:10
  • Started By: @afghan_youths
  • Bot Activity: 35.4%
  • Top Tweeting Location: Afghanistan
  • Key People: @pashtonnaseer, @achakzai__raziq

#MutinyInPakArmy

  • Total Tweets: 375
  • Potential Reach: 110635
  • Started On: 2019-08-16 | 14:36:48
  • Started By: @veteranjeev
  • Bot Activity: 21.81%
  • Top Tweeting Location: India
  • Key People: @veteranjeev, @dramjadmirza

#PakChinaNexus

  • Total Tweets: 1000
  • Potential Reach: 331922
  • Started On: 2017-07-27 | 12:18:16
  • Started By: @roypp22
  • Bot Activity: 37.68%
  • Top Tweeting Location: India
  • Key People: @roypp22, @tahassiddiqui

#BlacklistPakistan

  • Total Tweets: 24759
  • Potential Reach: 99928656
  • Started On: 2015-03-15 | 23:03:27
  • Started By: @meenadasnarayan
  • Bot Activity: 24.4%
  • Top Tweeting Location: India
  • Key People: @shilpa p, @kakar_harsha

#CivilWarInPakistan

  • Total Tweets: 92976
  • Potential Reach: 238929358
  • Started On: 2013-01-11 | 21:21:18
  • Started By: @theedge37
  • Bot Activity: 40.26%%
  • Top Tweeting Location: India
  • Key People: @himansh52521723,

@meghupdates

#SanctionPakistan

  • Total Tweets:  378089
  • Potential Reach:  194727016
  • Started On: 2021-07-30 | 20:54:22
  • Started By: @jason_c_howk
  • Bot Activity: 65%
  • Top Tweeting Location: Afghanistan
  • Key People: @calxandr @HabibkhanT


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Disinformation and Propaganda Campaign to Sabotage Afghan Peace Process

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