FACT CHECK : Recent influx of Fake Accounts exclusively sharing disinformation

The economic and political crisis in Sri Lanka has led to many protests islandwide since the end of March this year. This led to the establishment of the #GotaGoGama at Galle Face Green, Colombo. Citizens, activists and other professionals have been part of this continuous protest.   

It has come to our attention that individuals and groups involved with GotaGoGama have become targets and victims of organised disinformation campaigns.

An alleged audio recording of a telephone conversation attributed to President Counsel Saliya Peiris went viral on social media. The recording is of a conversation in which a person falsely identified as Mr. Peiris requests a payment to appear on behalf of protestors who have been arrested in Homagama. . 

We contacted President Counsel Saliya Peiris, who denied being part of such a conversation. He mentioned that the voice on the recording is not him, and that the claims made with regards to the recording were FAKE.

Here are some screenshots of the posts containing this audio recording. 

We looked into the people who shared this alleged phone conversation on Facebook, and most of them were noticeably fake Facebook accounts – created recently, with little to no identifying information, sharing similar misleading content targeting the protests and their supporters.

These posts also showed features of a coordinated inauthentic behaviour. Link to our observations are here

We further identified that a Facebook Page created on 29th May 2022 originally attributed this recording to Saliya Peiris. The page also presents Mr. Pireis to be a presidential candidate. 

Link to the Facebook Page. Here

Mr Saliya Peiris denied any involvement in this Facebook Page and of any ambition to contest for national presidency.  

Link to our Fact Check, here

Similarly, for the last few weeks we noticed deliberate attempts to mislead the public regarding the Bar Association of Sri Lanka and President Counsel Saliya Peiris.

Conclusion – Therefore, we have arrived at the conclusion that the alleged voice recording attributed to President Counsel Saliya Peiris is one with falsified details created deliberately to spread disinformation. 

In addition, the country is now in a state of unprecedented crisis, which opens gates to high volumes of information sharing. Thus, there will always be a variety of possible disinformation campaigns targeting particular individuals & institutions. 

As responsible citizens, we have a responsibility to be vigilant and act as gatekeepers to tackle disinformation. 

For more Fact Checks by Hashtag Generation, here.

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