Digital Witness Lab investigated the spread of an edited video of a Gauri Lankesh speech on social media, including YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Our goal was to gauge the role the video played in fueling the right-wing Hindu animosity towards her that ultimately led to her murder
Our investigation found that the video had been shared on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter prior to her murder. As of writing, the video has received more than 130 million interactions on Facebook and more than 250,000 views on YouTube. While overall engagement was low on Twitter, there were several instances of the video being shared before her death, including by a Bajrang Dal activist who had been linked to several acts of violence and online hate speech. We also found instances of the video being shared by right-wing activists on Twitter and the BJP Karnataka’s Facebook page before she was murdered, though public interaction with those posts was low. We were unable to investigate the spread on WhatsApp due to the lack of any publicly available tools to measure historical activity.
A platform for monitoring how election misinformation spreads through WhatsApp groups
We are building the tools necessary to persistently monitor WhatsApp groups for misinformation and other types of harm. WhatsApp Watch will collect data from public groups and analyze metadata to uncover networks of bad actors and other emerging trends. We are launching pilot studies in Brazil and India, where the platform is most widely used.
If you are a journalist based in these regions, and would like to learn more about WhatsApp Watch, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This project was made possible thanks to a generous Magic Grant from Columbia University’s Brown Institute.