Far-left propaganda portal The Wire has a colourful history of publishing hit-jobs, shoddy and malicious reports and waging disinformation campaigns against India’s ruling BJP regime and the right-wing ecosystem. There is perhaps hardly any notable conservative personality, group and portal in India that has not been made a target of this leftist publication’s propaganda. The Wire’s most recent stunt came in the form of it inventing a fictitious social media control app, and crediting the BJP with the development of the same. Named ‘Tek Fog’ by the Wire, this app seems to be the penultimate tool to control social media.
The Wire’s propaganda was busted by the Modi government with some simple revelations. Replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha, minister of state (MoS) for electronics and information technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, “Government has noted the news articles about the alleged app ‘Tek Fog’ that has been used to manipulate social media platforms. This ministry has tried to locate the app on prominent app stores and APK stores but could not find the app in any of these online stores.”
Chandrasekhar added that the ministry was “not aware of technical vulnerabilities” that can make social media intermediaries susceptible to manipulation, as reported by news agencies. He also stated, “The government is committed to open, safe and trusted, and accountable internet for users.” He added that the IT Ministry does not track and monitor apps or content appearing on social media platforms.
Why the Wire Needed to Consult a Researcher for its Propaganda Campaign
If the Wire, which claims to have investigated the ‘Tek Fog’ scandal for close to two years, wanted its story to have some shelf life and not prove to be a dud after one simple retort by the Modi government, it should have hired a researcher. This researcher, if hired, would have told the Wire that the app which it claims exists for the BJP’s war on social media, does not exist on any app stores, and neither is there an APK file that enables the installation of the application.
Interestingly, in its report, the Wire claimed that it was able to access code scripts that helped the team identify the various external tools and services connecting to a secure server hosting the Tek Fog app. The same script also led The Wire’s team to one of the servers hosting the app. The publication also claimed to have several screencasts and screenshots demonstrating the app’s features. Interestingly, none of these was published in its report on the imaginary app.
The portal based its malicious story on a couple of tweets by one Aarthi Sharma, who in August 2020, had claimed on Twitter that she had been working with the BJP’s “IT cell” since 2014 and was promised a government job. Upon not being given the job, she had claimed that she was asked to use the ‘secret app’, which bypasses reCAPTCHA codes and is used to auto-upload text and hashtag trends. According to the Wire, this monster of an app can manipulate the biggest social media platforms seamlessly and evade their security systems.
Such apps exist only in fictional films. Yet, for a portal of the Wire’s stature to base an entire “investigative report” on the plot of a substandard thriller would not be particularly unprecedented.