Trolls in Pakistan Exploit YouTube in Massive Cyber Disinformation Campaign

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community

Over 1,000 videos uploaded within 48 hours against the vulnerable Ahmadiyya Muslim Community

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has uncovered a massive and sophisticated hate campaign organised by trolls in Pakistan aimed to exploit technology companies to further expand Pakistan’s persecution of a vulnerable religious community.
Between December 14-15, 2020, digital trolls in Pakistan infiltrated YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and coordinated the upload of over 1,000 videos instructing viewers on how to alter Google’s search results related to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
“What happened in December is arguably the most pernicious digital disinformation campaign against a religious community in Pakistan’s history” said Mirza Ramzan Sharif, National Director of Public Relations for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Australia. “Instead of protecting the most vulnerable communities in Pakistan, large technology companies such as Google are either unaware of trolls exploiting their own platform for nefarious aims or are otherwise unwilling or unable to control mass-scale troll activity. A failure to crack down on such propaganda techniques are online trolling can lead to untold crimes against humanity, not only against Ahmadi Muslims”
Numerous reports have chronicled the rapid rise of troll disinformation campaigns in Pakistan that are targeted journalists, dissidents and progressive movements. Last August, minority rights leaders cited a significant rise in online sectarian attacks and hate speech in Pakistan. The Associated Press reported that in a single day, nearly 200,000 hate-filled tweets appeared directed at Ahmadi Muslims. This coincides with the targeted killings of several Ahmadi Muslims.
Last September, Facebook announced it had shut down extensive troll activity in Pakistan, but other social media companies have not yet followed suit. In fact, instead of going after the trolls, Google has elected to comply with patently discriminatory legal notices from Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to censor all Ahmadi digital content. Ahmadiyya Muslims Community Australia commends Facebook’s efforts to find and shutdown trolls and calls on Google and Twitter to investigate this mass disinformation campaign perpetrated on their platforms.
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