New Delhi: Twitter has labelled BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya’s tweet on a farmer being lathi-charged during the protests outside the national capital as “manipulated media”.
A 28 November tweet by Malviya said: “Rahul Gandhi must be the most discredited opposition leader India has seen in a long long time.”
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) November 28, 2020
Malviya’s tweet was a response to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s post in Hindi showing a policeman charging an aged farmer. Gandhi’s tweet read: “It is a very sad photo. Our slogan was ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’, but today, PM Modi’s arrogance has made the jawan stand against the farmer. This is very dangerous.”
बड़ी ही दुखद फ़ोटो है। हमारा नारा तो ‘जय जवान जय किसान’ का था लेकिन आज PM मोदी के अहंकार ने जवान को किसान के ख़िलाफ़ खड़ा कर दिया।
यह बहुत ख़तरनाक है। pic.twitter.com/1pArTEECsU
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) November 28, 2020
But Malviya’s tweet aimed to challenge Gandhi’s assertion that a policeman is charging the farmer with a stick. It included a post that compared two visuals — one, the image tweeted by Gandhi, which was tagged “propaganda” and “police beating an old farmer”, and the other a short video clip titled “reality”, and “police didn’t even touch the farmer”.
However, according to fact-checkers, this short video is manipulated.
Malviya did not respond to ThePrint’s calls, text messages and WhatsApp chats.
A Twitter spokesperson, meanwhile, told ThePrint on email: “The referenced tweet was labelled based on our Synthetic and Manipulated Media policy.”
In February 2020, Twitter announced its rules on synthetic and manipulated media and started labelling tweets.
The policy states: “We may label tweets containing synthetic and manipulated media to help people understand their authenticity and to provide additional context.”
It adds: “We may label tweets that include media (videos, audio, and images) that have been deceptively altered or fabricated.”
International news organisations RT (Russia) and Voice of America (USA) have shared a longer version of the video that shows two policemen took aim at the farmer in question. The short clip featured in Malviya’s post only showed the second policeman who swung the baton at the farmer, but missed hitting him.
In a 1 December article, fact-checking site Boom spoke to the farmer in the photo, 57-year-old Sukhdev Singh, who confirmed he had sustained injuries in the police charge. “I have injuries on my legs, back and arms,” the article quotes him as saying.
Twitter is yet to clarify if the company labelled Malviya’s tweet as manipulated before or after fact-checking sites called it out.