Investigative website Cobrapost on Friday alleged that IT companies are misusing social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to artificially boost politicians popularity and malign their rivals, with many firms claiming to be working for BJP and Narendra Modi.
The sting, Operation Blue Virus, claims to have exposed about two dozen little known IT firms across the country, which in the garb of providing reputation management services on social media, also offer fake fan following and posting defamatory content using IP addresses of others by hacking into them.
An undercover operation by Cobrapost exposes how IT companies across the country are using social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to help politicians artificially boost their popularity and malign their opponents," Cobrapost editor Aniruddha Bahal said at a press conference.
The website said it has uncovered about two dozen such firms, which are running this "shady" online reputation management business offering clients fake fan-following on Facebook and Twitter and are doing negative publicity against a political leader or a party, or a corporate house, at the behest of their opposite camp, all for money.
Bahal said Cobrapost associate editor Syed Masroor Hasan approached over two dozen IT companies asking them that his master (referred to as Netaji) wants to launch a campaign on social media before coming assembly elections and his rival's reputation has to be destroyed with negative publicity.
All the firms that Hasan visited offered to create a fan following (not necessarily genuine) on Facebook and Twitter, in lakhs to destroy the reputation of a political opponent of the politician, Hasan was supposedly representing, with negative publicity, Bahal claimed.
"Operation Blue Virus also reveals that the BJP is leading from the front in its social media campaign, if the claims of the companies exposed are to be believed. So is its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, with scores of companies working overtime for him," Cobrapost said in a release.
When asked about the reasons behind the name of only Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi figuring in conversations and not that of any other politician, Bahal said that his name cropped up in 5-6 of the total stings that were conducted.