Hyderabad: Reportedly, there are at least 265 coordinated ‘fake’ media houses across the globe, working around the clock to serve Indian interests. Indian-influenced networks manage these 265 local news sites operating out of 65 countries, claimed EU Disinformation labs.
European External Action Service’s East StratCom (the EU Disinformation Task Force), an independent agency countering disinformation across the globe, found this piece of startling information. Through their operation, they claimed to have; found ‘fake’ news agencies that push a large number of articles and op-eds in Indian interest.
How it all unfolded?
In October, the EU Disinformation Taskforce , claimed to have found that a website by the name eptoday.com, a magazine for the European parliament in Brussels, republished news directly from Russia Today and Voice of America. The investigators found that amidst its content were an unexpectedly large number of articles concerning minorities in Pakistan, besides Indian interest news.
EU DisinfoLab, claimed that a company called Srivastava Group manages eptoday.com. The IP address of the Srivastava Group led to New Delhi Times, and an agency called International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies (IINS), both based out of New Delhi.
It is significant to note that a few weeks ago, none other than IINS invited 27 members of the European parliament to Kashmir. The IINS were not the only funder as a direct entourage of EP Today was present as well.
“Open-source intelligence techniques led us to Geneva. Further investigation uncovered that timesofgeneva.com — an online “newspaper” that is “approaching 35 years in business” — had strangely published content as EP Today. They also produce videos covering events and demonstrations criticising Pakistan’s role in the Kashmir conflict,” said an official statement of EU labs.
What did the investigation reveal?
Evidence found that both EP Today and Times of Geneva have strong links with a network of NGOs and think tanks. Digging further into the servers, IP addresses and Twitter accounts, the team was led to 4newsagency.com, a website whose teams are located in 100 countries. Observers found modus operandi similar to the case of EP Today and Times of Geneva. Besides, 4newsagency.com led them to an additional network of over 265 resurrected media in more than 65 countries, following a similar modus operandi.
- Most of the sites are named after an extinct local newspaper or spoof of real media outlets
- They republish content from several news agencies (KCNA, Voice of America, and Interfax)
- Coverage of the same Indian-related demonstrations and events
- Republications of anti-Pakistan content from the described Indian network (including EP Today, 4NewsAgency, Times of Geneva, and New Delhi Times)
- Most websites have a Twitter account as well.