The war in Israel and Palestine continues and the misinformation circulating on Twitter, TikTok, Facebook and other social media makes it even worse.
In a 28-second video posted on Twitter this week by a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip were seen firing rockets at Israelis from densely populated urban areas.
At least that is what Netanyahu's spokesman Ofir Gendelman said. But his tweet with the video, which was shared hundreds of times as he escalated the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, did not come from Gaza. It wasn't even from this week.
Instead, the leaked video, which can be found on YouTube and other video hosting sites, was from 2018. And according to subtitles in earlier versions of the video, it shows fighters firing rockets not from Gaza but from Syria or Libya.
The video was just one example of the misinformation circulated on Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media this week about the escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians as Israeli military forces attacked Gaza on Friday. The fake news included videos, photos and excerpts of text allegedly from government officials in the area, with posts unfoundedly claiming earlier this week that Israeli troops had invaded Gaza.
The lies have intensified as they have been shared thousands of times on Twitter and Facebook, and have spread to groups on WhatsApp and Telegram with thousands of members, according to an analysis by The New York Times. The result of the misinformation is potentially deadly, the misinformation experts said, as it causes even more tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.
Christina LoNigro, a spokeswoman for WhatsApp, said the company has set limits on how many times people can promote a message as a way to limit misinformation.
The New York Times found a lot of misleading news about Israel and Palestine that spread to Israeli and Palestinian groups on WhatsApp this week. The news, which appeared as a Hebrew text or audio file, contained a warning that Palestinians were preparing to attack Israeli citizens.
"Palestinians are coming, parents, protect your children," said the message, which specifically targeted several areas north of Tel Aviv. Thousands of people were on one of the Telegram teams where the post was shared. The post then appeared on several WhatsApp groups, which had tens to hundreds of members.
However, it seems that there were no reports of violence in the areas mentioned in the message.
In another post earlier this week, written in Arabic and sent to a WhatsApp group of more than 200 members, users were warned that Israeli troops were preparing to invade the Gaza Strip.
"The invasion is coming," said the text, which called on people to pray for their families.
Arabic and Hebrew news sources also appeared to reinforce misinformation about the war in Israel and Palestine. Several Israeli news agencies recently showed a video showing a family walking to a funeral, carrying a corpse only to drop it when a police siren sounded. The video was reported by news outlets as evidence that Palestinian families were conducting fake funerals and exaggerating the number of people killed in the conflict.
In fact, the video appeared on YouTube a year ago and may show a Jordanian family having a fake funeral, the caption says in the original video.
Excerpts from another video showing religious Jews tearing their clothes as a sign of devotion also surfaced on news sites this week. The excerpts were cited as evidence that Jews pretended to have been injured in clashes in Jerusalem.
This was misinformation. The video was uploaded to WhatsApp and on Facebook several times earlier this year, according to research by The New York Times.
There is a long history of misinformation between Israeli and Palestinian groups, with false allegations and conspiracies growing in times of intense violence in the region.
In recent years, Facebook has launched several disinformation campaigns from Iran aimed at provoking tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. Twitter also "downloaded" a network of fake accounts in 2019 that was used to loot Mr.'s opponents. Netanyahu.
A video released by Mr Gendelman on Twitter on Wednesday, which allegedly showed Palestinian fighters firing rockets at Israelis, was removed on Thursday after Twitter described it as "misleading".
Source of information: nytimes.com