Mapping Network Behavior and Coordinated Activity – A Study on Indian Info Ops

Overview

  • This study maps the deeply integrated and coordinated social media campaigns of Indian Info Ops networks against its regional rivals (China and Pakistan)
  • It does this by examining tweets related to Pakistan and China by some of the most prominent Indian voices on Twitter: 3 Indian journalists, 4 former military experts, and 3 sock-puppet accounts    
  • It shows how these accounts are part of a coordinated network of verified accounts linked with key state institutions and individuals all pushing a synchronous and specific narrative targeting its neighbors

Methodology

  • The data analyzed comprises over 120k tweets from the last 3 years (Jan 2018 – Oct 2021)
  • Findings were derived from:
    • Textual analysis of the most frequently recurring themes and hashtags specifically on Pakistan and China
    • Network analysis of the most frequent interactions between key accounts and their immediate clusters

Textual Analysis

Key Findings

  • There is a marked and coordinated specificity in terms of how these accounts have projected an increasingly hawkish stance on Pakistan and China
  • The most prominent themes associated with Pakistan and China are related to terrorism, ceasefire/ border violations and propaganda
  • Tweeting patterns related to each country were strongly correlated around the following key events:
    • Hawkish statements related to Pakistan were predominantly based around the Balakot air- strikes, and the revocation of Article 370 in the disputed J&K region around 2019
    • Those related to China saw a significant rise as the LAC standoff intensified over the summer of 2020

1. Defense/ Security Journalists

2. Former Military Experts

3. Sock-Puppet Accounts

Network Analysis

Key Findings

  • The relationships shown below are based on a set frequency of interactions between these accounts in the form of mentions, retweets, quotes, and replies
  • Each cluster represents how the above-mentioned accounts are linked with one another as well as official state accounts such as the HMO and ADG PI
  • The journalists and military experts being analyzed act as conduits between official narratives at the state level (top left) and hyper nationalized hawkish stances at the sock-puppet/ info ops levels (bottom right)

Conclusion

  • There has been a marked surge in Indian information warfare against Pakistan and China following the 2018 elections in Pakistan
  • Much of this conversation is coordinated between different sets of networks and actors used to amplify the Indian state’s official narrative into increasingly hyper-nationalistic rhetoric 
  • The narratives being pushed are centered on framing Pakistan as a state sponsor of terror, and China as a hegemonic aggressor in the South Asian region

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Mapping Network Behavior and Coordinated Activity – A Study on Indian Info Ops

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