A recently published study shows that anti-Hindu content is becoming increasingly visible across social media platforms, from fringe channels like message board 4chan to mainstream Twitter and Reddit.
Anti-Hindu content is also on the rise on messaging platforms like Telegram and other microblogging platforms like Gab. The study also warns of increased anti-Hindu "genocidal memes" in Islamists, White Nationalists, and other extremist online networks.
Published by the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI) report, an organization that tracks misinformation across social media, the study used machine learning and open source intelligence collection through web scraping.
The study is a collaboration between Rutgers University in New Jersey, the Miller Center for Community Protection and Resilience, the Center for Critical Intelligence Studies, and NCRI.
John Farmer, one of the study's authors, described his first-hand experience with anti-Hindu sentiments. "The so-called "dot busters," a largely white, largely young gang, had indeed embarked on a campaign of vandalism, violence, and murder designed to terrorize Jersey City's Hindu population," Farmer said in the study's foreword.
"The "dot busters" may no longer be active in New Jersey, but their ideology surfaced as recently as 2021 in Atlanta," he added.
The study also discovered that anti-Hindu slurs and contents spiked after Parag Agrawal, an Indian-American software engineer, was appointed as CEO of Twitter in November 2021.
"There were spikes in certain ethnic slurs used against him in particular," Prasiddha Sudhakar, lead author of the study, said.
"I wouldn't say I was surprised, given that there's been a massive rise in all forms of ethnic hatred, whether it's antisemitism, Islamophobia, or anti-Asian hate," she added.
Aside from regular social media users propagating anti-Hindu content, the authors discovered that most of the content is generated by troll farms based in Iran. The study found that these troll accounts masquerade as human rights activists, journalists, and humanists.
Last year, Brian Bennet of the Times magazine published an article highlighting troll farms in Iran. According to Bennet, aside from targeting Joe Biden’s presidential bid and the Iran nuclear deal, troll farms were also amplifying anti-Semitic messages.
This time, Iran-based troll farms are spreading anti-Hindu stereotypes that further galvanize Hindus and exacerbate the religious tensions between India and Pakistan, the study said.
The study also highlighted a bombing carried out by ISIS in 2017 on a Bhopal–Ujjain Passenger train. The study added that trolls from Iran posed as individuals from Pakistan, blaming “Hindu Extremists” for the attack and attempting to get the idea trending on social media platforms.
They even tag established news agencies "calling on them to condemn India for anti-Muslim violence," the study said.
But the real danger in these hateful online contents is their tendency to translate to real-life violence. "Violence commonly follows hateful memes, hashtags, and such," Farmer said.
"This large surge in ethnic antagonism online often presages violence against targeted groups," the study concluded.