With the continuously increasing internet penetration in growing economies, internet based platforms are emerging as big players, driving the online political discourse. As per a research by cable.co.uk, India has the cheapest mobile data in the world, with 1GB just costing Rs. 18.5. The low-cost internet further increases the reach and impact of these platforms. Top platforms include Twitter, Facebook and others.
These social media platforms though make claims of maintaining neutrality and of providing equal ground for every user, have actually failed to deliver effectively. Various reports over usage of online social media platforms by foreign organizations, private corporations and others to cater content specific to their agenda have surfaced. The online activity by several entities on social media platforms and how it conflicts with the interests of the users has also been questioned.
The 2016 US presidential ‘election manipulation’ scandal is one example where accusations were made against the Russian government for meddling in the US elections through social media and other online platforms. The Indian subcontinent is not alien to these tactics.
A recent occurrence of events on Twitter raise similar questions. DMK and its supporters were believed to trend “GoBackModi” whenever PM Narendra Modi visited Tamil Nadu for inauguration of development projects, however, many discrepancies in the trending pattern were pointed out by the users. After analysis by various Twitteratis, doubts turned into facts.
Ranganathan, an active Twitter user analysed this and found out a very shocking data.
He tweeted, “Was curious about who took part in trending GoBackModi, surprisingly it was Pakistani handles which enhanced the hashtag. 58% Tweets came from Pakistan, 22% from India and just 4% from Chennai.”
Was curious about who took part in trending GoBackModi, surprisingly it was Pakistan handles which enhanced the hashtag. 58% Tweets came from Pak, 22% India. Chennai 4%.
What does this show? That TN folks have handlers in Pakistan?
Some help me decipher pic.twitter.com/ND4DwcUCC0
— रंगा – ரங்கா Iyengar (@ranganaathan) March 2, 2019
Abhijit Majumder, Editor of MyNation tweeted, “Checked out #GoBackModi trend. Nice India-Pakistan joint venture. A desperate ISI has allied with its Indian puppets here.”
Checked out #GoBackModi trend. Nice India-Pakistan joint venture. A desperate ISI has allied with its Indian puppets here.
— Abhijit Majumder (@abhijitmajumder) March 1, 2019
DMK and Congress being ignorant of the facts decided to use this trend to further benefit their electoral motives and joined the line with Pakistani entities undermining the dignity of our nation. Many experts have indicated towards the notorious ISI, the intelligence agency of Pakistan to be behind these covert online tactics. Pakistan media houses further exploited the endorsements of the trend “go back Modi” by Congress and DMK, to peddle false narratives.
The Daily Times, a Pakistani newspaper, reported, “Tamil Nadu was said to be the biggest vote bank for BJP, but after the surgical strikes and Modi’s response towards the border tensions, people of Tamil Nadu have shown their backs to BJP and didn’t welcome the party in Tamil Nadu. The twitter trends show much about the backlash for Modi.”
With Pakistan fully exposed, Indian Twitteratis have taken the baton in their hand against what some term as “Pakistan-Congress” nexus on social media. Today, Twitter users in India have been trending “GoBackRahul” to counter propaganda by Pakistan-congress-DMK nexus and oppose the irresponsible attitude of Congress and DMK leaders which fuels Pakistani tactics and ultimately affects Indian democratic system.
— Prasoon Tiwari/प्रसून तिवारी (@tprasoon31) March 13, 2019
Many Twitter users have also called for the NIA investigation over Pakistan’s involvement in manipulating political discourse in India.