Hours after Hamas attacked southern Israel on Oct. 7, a WhatsApp message purporting to list the names of 17 Indian Hindus killed or wounded in the assault went viral in India, drawing horrified reactions. But the list was fake — none were hurt.

In the following weeks, hundreds of messages referencing the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group spread rapidly on Indian social media accounts, according to fact-checkers and researchers documenting online disinformation about India's Muslim minority.

Many of those messages warned Hindus that their safety could be at risk from Muslims if the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) loses power in next year's election.