A non-profit group has revealed that at least one Indian firm is behind a website that targets members of the European Parliament and other policymakers with content critical of Pakistan, news website Politico reported on Wednesday.
The group, EUvsDisinfo, is funded by the European Union. It showed that the EP Today website drew most of its content from Russia Today – an international television network funded by the Russian government – and reproduced its articles word-for-word on its site.
More research by non-profit organisation EU DisinfoLab showed that EP Today’s office address – 37 Square de Meeus in Brussels –
is the same as that of the Srivastava Group, which is a New Delhi-based organisation that lists the New Delhi Times as one of its assets. However, there is no mention of EP Today.
EP Today also draws its content from the Voice of America multimedia news agency, which is funded by the United States government. Its content is linked to Indian interests, and is critical of Pakistan. Disinfo Lab’s investigation “reveals just how complicated this field of research [disinformation] is; it shows how attribution is always difficult, and how caution should be taken when reporting on disinformation investigations”, its Managing Director Gary Machado told Politico.
As of Wednesday evening, EP Today is still functioning. However, its Facebook page, liked by more than 1.45 lakh people, was taken down on Tuesday. A Twitter account associated with the website is permanently suspended.
“We don’t comment on individual accounts for security and privacy reasons,” said an unidentified Twitter spokesperson. “Impersonating another user, brand or organisation in a confusing or deceptive way is a violation of the Twitter rules.”
Relations between India and Pakistan have deteriorated since New Delhi scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status on August 5, and split it into two Union Territories. It also imposed restrictions on public movement and communications curbs, which are slowly being rolled back.
Pakistan has sought to internationalise the dispute, repeatedly warning the global community that India’s actions could push the two countries towards war. Islamabad downgraded diplomatic ties and suspended bilateral trade in the aftermath of India’s actions.
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