Claims of bias: Minority leader, journalist, and AL Web Team highlight BNP’s “Facebook disinformation”

The Report Desk

Published: June 11, 2024, 05:24 PM

Claims of bias: Minority leader, journalist, and AL Web Team highlight BNP’s “Facebook disinformation”

Collected Photo

The Facebook page of The Road to Democracy, a publication of BNP’s Media Cell, posted a photo of Rana Dasgupta, general secretary of the country’s largest minority unity council, with the caption: “Religious and ethnic minorities are not leaving the country, they are being forced to leave the country. He showed disappointment because Awami League did not implement the minority-friendly promises.” Posted in March, it still remains on the page.

When his attention was drawn to the post, the minority community leader expressed shock at the “unchecked freedom enjoyed by BNP to spread such disinformation on Facebook.”
“For decades, BNP-Jamaat stoked communal violence,” he said. The key objective of the post misquoting him is to “reverse historic facts and mislead the global audience,” Dasgupta said.

In January this year, media reports pointed out that BNP’s social media platforms were “circulating disinformation.”

A January 18, 2024 report by Somoy TV stated: “Soon after the story of an arson attack on a moving train was reported days ahead of the polls, BNP tried to shift the blame on Awami League.” A post on BNP Media Cell’s verified Facebook page, dated January 5, 2024, reads: “We strongly condemn the arson attacks. The AL regime must stop its false-flag operations and sabotages.”

The Somoy TV report also added, “Political observers say the decision-makers of foreign governments should not pay heed to any information peddled by the verified handles of the party.”

On October 28, 2023, a video surfaced on social media showing a man in BNP’s Nayapaltan office. Sitting next to BNP leader Ishraq Hossain, the man, Mian Arefy, introduced himself as an “advisor to US President Joe Biden,” and even went as far as to claim that the US president was “in full favor of restoration of the caretaker government.”

Video of Arefy sitting at BNP office, surrounded by party leaders, was widely circulated on Facebook by pro BNP and Jamaat netizens claiming that Arefy, “on behalf of Biden,” came to BNP’s party office to support their cause to overthrow the government.

Tonmoy Ahmed, coordinator of the Awami League Web Team, emphasized Meta’s failure to manage the spread of disinformation targeting Awami League and its leaders. He criticized Meta for turning a blind eye to false information against AL leaders, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her family members.

"I would request Meta to look into the IRI-NDI survey on Bangladesh polls that show Awami League and Sheikh Hasina have been subjected to a disinformation campaign," Tonmoy said. He questioned the credibility of Meta’s report, suggesting that it was outsourced to a third party with potential biases.

“BNP’s Media Cell has been found involved in sponsoring content that is tantamount to inciting attacks on law enforcers and deceiving the public by absolving Tarique Rahman from crimes corroborated by international agencies. Yet Meta turns a blind eye to this in its report,” he added.

State Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Mohammad A. Arafat, also expressed concerns: “Meta should investigate the original identity of the people they had outsourced to write this report, which was not only shamelessly biased but also an epitome of disinformation by itself.”


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