A viral document consisting of over 2,000 Twitter handles has gone viral on social media. The post claims the Twitter handles mentioned in the document belong to Pakistan's troll army sponsored by the ISI to fight the narrative war against India and push pro-Pakistan agenda.
Going through most of these Twitter handles reveals all belong to users in Pakistan. While the behaviour of some accounts seems consistent with what the post claims, so we decided to fact check the nature of the post.
The document is titled: Twitter competition for "picture projecting positive image of Pakistan." It goes on to show the list of accounts for a participation prize, which is followed by over 2,000 Twitter handles. There's a seal on top of the document, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the Pakistan army.
With this information, we started our fact-checking. We had to find out what the logo was, which didn't seem clear. A simple Google search for "Pakistan army logo" showed the exact logo from the document, linking it to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
We randomly picked some Twitter handles to see if the viral post had any truth behind it. Some accounts belonged to Pakistani users. Several of these accounts posted pro-Pakistan posts, which gives authenticity to the viral social media post. While we couldn't verify the authenticity of all the accounts and some accounts did seem like they fit the bill for being a part of the troll army for Pakistan.
We did some digging further and found out the document isn't new. In fact, The Tribune had covered a story back in June 2018 where it reported about a Twitter activity organised by the director-general of ISPR, which encouraged users to post pictures projecting a positive image of Pakistan to win prizes. This wasn't done on an official capacity but was done to push Pro-Pakistan agenda.
When we looked at the list of Twitter handles that participated in the 2018 contest, they matched with the ones in the viral post. Hence, it concludes that the Twitter handles in the viral document aren't new and date back to 2018, when a Pakistani official had conducted an online activity to paint Pakistan in positive light.