India ranks as highest risk for misinformation: U-M experts can comment

March 11, 2024
Concept illustration of a man in India looking at newspapers. Image credit: Nicole Smith, made with Midjourney


False information is one of the major threats people will face with multiple elections scheduled around the globe this year.

According to experts surveyed for the World Economic Forum’s 2024 Global Risk Report, India was ranked highest for the risk of misinformation and disinformation.

University of Michigan experts are available to comment.

Joyojeet Pal
Joyojeet Pal

Joyojeet Pal, associate professor at the School of Information, studies the role of technology in democracy and labor. He specializes in politicians’ use of social media and misinformation, particularly in India.

“There are three challenges with online dangerous speech and propaganda: sophistication, believability and virality,” he said. “The levels of polarization and media distrust in India are such that there are pockets of citizens who are quickly willing to believe certain things about groups they see as antagonistic to their interests and worldview, so believability is already high.

“On virality, many groups with vested interests, including politicians, have well-established networks through which they operate and can quickly turn things viral. Artificial intelligence will allow a certain sophistication to close off the loop and use data to learn better what kinds of propaganda are more valuable to parties in converting voters.

“The elections in India are critical because parties are very entrenched in the social media culture and have strong teams working on their outreach. Indeed, teams with experience running social media campaigns consult with politicians worldwide, so the elections in India often indicate how things will evolve elsewhere.”

Contact: 734-764-1555,

Swapnil Rai
Swapnil Rai

Swapnil Rai is an assistant professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Media. Focusing on the Global South, she investigates how transnational networked cultures intersect with media industries and with questions of policy, geopolitics and audiences.

“I think one of the key reasons why misinformation and disinformation could pose such a significant threat to India is the enormous reliance and trust on platforms like WhatsApp, which enables the easy and encrypted spreadability of wrong information—whether related to the aggrandizement of a political persona, deep fakes or other kinds of AI-generated disinformation/misinformation or propaganda.

“The platform is a simple messaging platform that is structured to evoke community. One of its biggest political affordances is that any information spreads as a reliable piece of community gossip or information, and it comes from people you know closely—as opposed to, say, Twitter or other platforms.

“I think what is needed is more of an awareness campaign that helps users identify and weed out these insidious and fake campaigns.”

Contact: 734-764-0167,