Saturday June 15, 2024

French media debunks PTI ‘disinformation’

By News Desk
May 21, 2023

ISLAMABAD: After the country was stormed by violent protesters across the cities following the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, misinformation was rampant on social media platforms.

In the wake of riots and vandalism in Pakistan, which continued for a couple of days since May 9, an image and two videos were being continuously shared to show the situation unfolding amid the chaos and the government’s crackdown on violent political protesters.

A photo, which was proven to be an Artificial Intelligence-generated image, showed a woman confronting the police tackling rioters. Among one of the two videos, droves of people are seen confronting police, while in another, a crowd is seen carrying coffins, which circulated with claims that the bodies were those of PTI protesters who were killed during the countrywide demonstrations.

A French news channel France 24, however, noted some obvious giveaways about the image and videos not being real or from Pakistan. In its probe to prove the origins of the image and videos, the media outlet’s journalist Vedika Bahl — who hosts a news segment Truth or Fake — took a closer look at the misinformation being circulated by workers and supporters of the Khan-led party.

When explaining the image, the journalist shared that it was being circulated across Twitter as a symbol of resistance against the country’s riot police, while one tweet mentioned: “This is real FEMINISM.”

The reach of the image was also gauged through the fact that it was retweeted by PTI’s official Twitter account and had garnered over 231,000 views on the microblogging website. The journalist confirmed that the image was generated through AI and traced it to its creator, a Twitter user named Abdullah Saad.

She mentioned how AI always has trouble drawing hands, which also gave away how it wasn’t a real image. She also pointed out that the riot police shown in the image was nothing like the real cops who were tackling protesters on the streets with their faces, helmets and uniforms looking unreal.

The creator of the image said he was inspired by one of the female protestors in the demonstrations last week who confronted the police and took off her scarf as a symbol of defiance.

Bahl went on to show two different videos, which were being claimed to show PTI protesters’ resistance across TikTok, Twitter and other social media platforms. However, one of the videos — claimed as PTI supporters marching towards the police — was actually of 1,000 Honduran migrants moving towards the US border seeking US president’s attention at the issues of asylum seekers.

Meanwhile, the other video was from a recent shooting incident in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Parachinar where seven people were gunned down in a government school’s staffroom.