Kashmir ‘fake news’ barrage raises fears for India elections

NEW DELHI (AFP) – A deluge of online hoaxes that hit Indian social media as the country fought aerial battles with neighbouring Pakistan has heightened fears over the “fake news” war looming in India’s national election.

AFP has published more than 30 fact-check blogs debunking false claims made on Facebook and other social networks about the stand-off over Kashmir between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

Experts said it was just the tip of the iceberg and that India will be the biggest misinformation challenge among a host of closely watched elections around the world this year.

The government is expected to imminently announce dates for the six-week-long vote across the nation of 1.3 billion people.

More than 460 million people are online in India but digital literacy is often poor which only helps the spread of fake videos, photos and messages that incite lynch mobs, communal violence and hardcore support for the main political parties.