What is Manipulated Media Tag on Twitter?

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Recently, Twitter labelled “Manipulated Media Tags” on various tweets backed by the BJP party members, including prominent names like National Spokesperson of BJP Sambit Patra. It was not the first instance when Twitter put this out as there have been several in the past; for example, the BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya also had the chance to witness the same tag while tweeting. It has led to a face-off between Twitter and the central government. This article lets us understand the meaning and need of Manipulated Media Tags by Twitter and their related incidents.

Manipulated Media refers to any media, whether it is audio videos and misleading images, by fabricating the content. Under this, tweets are labelled, which could cause harm.

Twitter states that it takes a mix of technology and a human review with complete knowledge subject to label the content. In one of its blogs, it says, “In order to determine if media have been significantly and deceptively altered or fabricated, we may use our own technology or receive reports through partnerships with third parties.”

After a review, the content tweeted is seen on various levels considering its severity, affecting or harming the public in different ways. Although to avoid all this, a user’s account can be taken off or removed from there. Further, the social media giant also lowers the visibility of such tweets when users scroll and also admonishes users that “repeated violations” can enable the accounts to be permanently suspended.

Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, BJP national social media in-charge Priti Gandhi, BJP media panellist Charu Pragya, BJP Delhi general secretary Kuljeet Singh Chahal, Andhra Pradesh co-in-charge Sunil Deodhar tweeted with their verified accounts in toolkit case allegedly created by Indian National Congress, and their accounts were labelled as “manipulated media”.

Patra’s tweet was about Congress defaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He included phrases in a document such as ‘Questions on PM CARES’, ‘Politicising and Allowing Super Spreader Kumbh’, ‘Special treatment of Gujarat’, ‘Choosing vanity over people’s lives, ‘Amplify work of frontal Congress organizations’ and ‘Prime Minister Modi’s image’. The document also asks volunteers to use words, namely ‘Modi strain’, ‘Missing’ Amit Shah, ‘Quarantined’ Jaishankar, ‘Sidelined’ Rajnath Singh, ‘Insensitive’ Nirmala Sitharaman.

While writing to the micro-blogging site, INC sought permanent suspension of all BJP leaders. “We are filing an FIR for forgery against JP Nadda and Sambit Patra,” said Sunil Ahire, National Spokesperson of INC. The party also said that the BJP is diverting attention from its failure.

Lodging a strong protest against Twitter, the Ministry of Electronics and IT has asked them to remove the ‘manipulated Media’ tags affixed to some tweets in the interests of ‘fairness and equity’. On marking Patra’s tweet as “Manipulated Media”, the central government said Twitter’s labelling decision is “pre-judged, prejudiced and a deliberate attempt to colour the investigation”.

The police in Chhattisgarh filed a case against Patra and former Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh over the “toolkit” tweets. Raipur police summoned Patra where the BJP spokesperson didn’t show up and requested a week to make his presence.

On Monday, Delhi Police special cell visited the offices of Twitter in Delhi and Gurugram to serve the notice to its Managing Director related to the toolkit case, which appeared like a raid as per media reports. The act led to criticism from numerous people who referred to the move as an “intimidation” tactic, and Manipulated Media started trending on Twitter.

In December, BJP’s Malviya’s tweet was also marked as “Manipulated Media” during the farmers’ protests against the agriculture laws.

Twitter had flagged numerous tweets in the US when the former US President tweeted and suspended his account at that time.