ARCHIVE OPERATION BLUE VIRUS: WATCH THE VIDEOS

OPERATION BLUE VIRUS: WATCH THE VIDEOS

Operation Blue Virus


By Cobrapost.com - November 4, 2013


Operation Blue Virus

Investigating a Virus Called Social Media, Ubiquitous, Unbridled, Untamable Cobrapost exposes how social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and others are coming in handy for politicians to artificially boost their popularity, and malign their opponents, with help of IT companies across India which specialize in providing customized online reputation management services, for a fee.

About two dozen such companies have been uncovered.

There is little social about social media.

This is what Operation Blue Virus, an undercover investigation by Cobrapost, shows, uncovering how IT companies across the country are engaged in a racket of reputation management, offering fake fan-following on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, and negative publicity to sully the reputation of a political leader, or a corporate house, for money.

Among their clients are corporate houses, big or small, NGOs, scam-tainted senior government officials, individual politicians and political parties.

Posing as a front man for an imagined politician from an opposition party, Cobrapost Associate Editor Syed Masroor Hasan, approached over two dozen IT companies with a simple request: Netaji, his master, wants to launch a campaign on social media before coming assembly elections. But his opponent’s reputation has to be destroyed with negative publicity, simultaneously.

 

This will help Netaji win not only assembly election with a handsome margin but also a Lok Sabha ticket in parliamentary elections due in 2014, and then a Cabinet berth. Budget is not a problem.

All companies exposed offered Hasan to create a fan-following, not necessarily genuine, on Facebook and Twitter, in lakhs, destroy the reputation of a political opponent of Netaji Hasan was supposedly representing with negative publicity, in myriad ways. Some of them offered to provide demographic data on voters, divided on linguistic and communal lines, for effective booth management to win election. Some of them offered to hire journalists or even detectives to throw muck at Netaji’s opponent.

Some of them went on to the extent of offering services like buying votes of the poor and spreading rumours or exploding a bomb to force a particular minority community stay indoors on polling day, so bogus votes could be cast. They would use different IP addresses, offshore servers, proxy codes or wireless connections, disable the tracking device of a computer system and destroy the same when the job is over, to cover their tracks. The asking price for these reputation management services ranged from a few lakhs to a couple of crores, to be paid in cash.

Many of these malpractices violate various laws, such as the Information Technology Act 2000, the Representation of the People Act 1951 and the Income Tax Act 1961, and are as such punishable under various sections of the Indian Penal Code.

Operation Blue Virus also makes certain stunning revelations. If the claims of the companies exposed are to be believed, among political parties, BJP is at the forefront in social media campaign, so is its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, with scores of companies working overtime for him.

This puts a question mark on the claims of the BJP leadership that there is a wind blowing in favour of their party and Narendra Modi. The larger-than-life-image that Team Modi has assiduously carved out for Modi over the past one decade may not be that real, rather invented, and is reminiscent of the Goebbellian propaganda, to sway the opinion of gullible public.

It is no surprise then that even a milder criticism of the BJP’s star campaigner invites scathing attacks from his followers on social media, claimed to be in millions in count.
However, more disturbing is the use of social media for fanning communal sentiments by vested interests.

Social media has its share of blame for riots in Muzaffar Nagar or the exodus of Northeastern ‘Chinis’ from cities across India. What requires to be done in the wake of Operation Blue Virus is a thorough investigation into the functioning of the IT companies in question and bring them to justice and a revisit of country’s cyber laws to plug the loopholes, both in letter and in implementation, without impinging on freedom of speech.

Otherwise, it will be not too long before social media, ubiquitous, unbridled and untamed, becomes the bane of society with all its attendant ills.

We are giving here excerpts of selected case studies of the IT companies Cobrapost has exposed in the course of its Operation Blue Virus.

 

Bipin Pathare, Om Consultancy Services, Andheri East, Mumbai
The most crafty and ruthless of the lot investigated by Cobrapost, Bipin Pathare has designed a software which gives access to booth-wise data of voters, according to their language, region and religion, so as to approach them differently. Listen to what this old fox says: “Ab ye dekho ismein na ismein kitne part hain ek hai part Adiba karke na … aap maloom hoga aapko ki itna Adiba ka hai 233 Adiba ka hai … toh aapko suppose iska voter dekhne ka hai kitna 112 mein toh aapko voters milenge … kitne voters hain … haan 1141 hain (Now, you see how many parts it has … one part is that of Adiba … you may be knowing that Adiba has 233 … so if you want to see how many voters are there in booth no. 112 … yes there are 1141 voters).” Pathare would do negative propaganda against Netaji’s opponent. He asks: “Doosre ka ulta propaganda karna hai … yehi toh strategy hai … hum log wohi toh use karte hain poora (You want to do negative propaganda against the other fellow … This is the right strategy … this is what we manage fully).” Look how nonchalantly he claims to have helped one Praveen Jara win election using intimidation against a particular community, by detonating a crude bomb in their locality: “Idhar Praveen Jara jeet gaya na … udhar hum logon ne kya kiya tha maloom hai … ek jageh pe Muslim vote the Mislim toh nahin daalenge humein maloom tha pakka … udhar sixty per cent jo Muslim vote the … hum log ne kaisa kiya unhein udher danga kiya … ek thoda sa haath bomb hota hai … bomb wagaireh wo sab fora udhar unke hi logon ne … wahan koi bahar nahin aya … unka sixty per cent vote aa gaya … ye sab strategy hai na (Praveen Jara won here … you know what we did … there were some Muslim votes in a locality … we knew Muslims will not cast vote in his favour … there were 60 per cent Muslim votes … you know what we did … we created a riot … exploded there a little hand bomb taking help from their own fellows … nobody among the community ventured out … their 60 percent vote was secured thus … we have all these kinds of strategy).” As already admittied by him, the data Pathare is in possession of can tell who lives where and this can be put to good use for electoral gains, even if you are able to spread a rumour and stop the minority voters from venturing out on polling day. Says Pathare: “Haan isase toh yehi pata chalta hi na aapke kaun sa road pe kitna log Muslim rehta hai … aisa mahaul set karna hai … uske andar bhi nahain aye wo ki kuch gadbad hai … logon ko kuch ek ek rumour wo karne ka hai rumour wo karne ka hai udhar gadbad ho raha hai … bahar mat nikalna (Yes … this helps us know how many Muslims live on which road … we have to set an atmosphere … so that they don’t enter in the area … that there is some disturbance … our men will have to spread a rumour that there is some disturbance out there … so don’t venture out).” He will design a server for negative publicity: “… poora ek server design karenge apna (… we will design a server).” He assures: “Abhi ek server hai na wo ensure karke udhar poora negative propaganda usse hum mera naam bhi nahin dega usse (We have one server … we will ensure it … to begin negative propaganda).” He claims: “Nahin … server ka wo mera koi find out nahin kar payega (No … nobody will be able to find out my server).” The reason is it will work out of the United States, and will also be used to send sms in lakhs.
 

Trikam Patel, Co-Founder, Triams, Bangalore

Believing in one-up-manship, Trikam Patel gives an example of Narendra Modi’s campaign on social media: “Aap dekhte hi hain na Facebook mein Modi ka kitne cartoons wagaireh ye sab kuch karta hai … cartoons rahta hain unke articles ache ache tareeke se likhe jaate hain taaki uska promotion ho (You must have observed there are shown a number of cartoons on Modi’s Facebook site … there are cartoons … articles on him are well written so that his promotion goes well).” He says the fact is the Gujarat public is very gullible so much so that if you tell them there is a ghost around, they will simply believe it. It is, therefore, quite easy to do any kind of promotion with them. Setting up a team of expert content and software developers for Netaj’s social media campaign, Patel tells Cobrapost he will do it using different IPs to give it pan-India character: “… IP ek se marketing zaldi nahin hota hai matlab different IPs le lenge toh usmein kya hain na region ke hissab se circulate hoga usmein kya hai ek ek baar se all over India failega (… you cannot do a faster marketing by with just a single IP … so we will have to buy different IPs … with this we will be able to circulate the content region wise and spread it steadily all over India).” Patel has a third-party contract for Modi’s promotion campaign on social media. Listen to Patel: “Mere dekhiye … Joshi hai aur aapko VRL pata hoga VRL Travels … VRL Travels iska bhi aap dekh rahe hain poora wahna bhi mantrgiri kar raha wo hai baad mien Narendra Modi ka third-party contract hai (I have clients like … Joshi and then there is this VRL Travels … as you might have seen this VRL Travels fellow is doing mantrigiri … then we have got this third-party contract of Narendra Modi).” He has met Modi once and the job was entrusted to him by his assistant Ravji. His company has been doing it for Modi for the past two and half years, and there are six other companies on board Campaign Modi. Patel would not allow any negative comment on our scam-tainted Netaji to appear: “… negative hai hum log usko seedha mail bhej dete hain ki your content is invalid (… [if a comment] is negative then we simply send the fellow a mail saying your content is invalid).” A step ahead of his peers, Patel would hire goons and detectives to rake up all the muck against Netaji’s opponent: “Uske liye kya hai na shaitan dimaag chahiye hota hai … wo thode aise hi gunda gardi log rehte hain na wo hi karte hain … ye jo iske liye detective agencies hain unko kaafi doston ko bhi jaanta hoon wahan pe unke … mere clients hain websites wagaireh maine banaye hue hain … unko main approach karke ek do bando ko laga doonga … toh dheere dheere se unka kya subject hai kahan pe jaate hain kahan pe aate hain … unke personal relations kuan hai kya hai … poore jo bhi jaankari hum logon ko dete hain wo hum log database mein store karte hain (You need a devil’s mind for that … that kind of job is done by goons … I know many friends who run detective agencies … I have developed their websites … I will approach them and get two fellows on the job … what is the subject of his interest … where does he go … where he does come from … what are his personal relations … they will give us all kinds of information on the fellow … we will store it in our database).” No doubt Patel possesses a devil’s mind. He would employ every dubious means to get the job done: “Main aapko bata deta hoon ki kaise kaam hota hai main kahin pe baithke aapka mera laptop se aapka laptop main update karoonga aap dekhiye poora main baithke kahin se bhi dikha sakta hoon (I shall tell you how the work is done … I can update your laptop using my laptop sitting anywhere … you see I will show it to you sitting anywhere).” In other words, he would hack into computers of other individuals. Making another revelation, Patel claims: “Online mein toh marketing sabhi strategy use kar loonga jisme kum se kum 50 site aisi banaoonga jo Trojan Faking … virus ka naam … jaise system mein abhi naya virus ka naam … wahan se kya hota hai computer mein automatically wo site ko kholna shuru kar deta hai … site kholna shuru kar dega automatically uska jo comments hai humne jo likha hua hai wo comments aa jayega … automatically likes barh jaata hai (I will use all online marketing strategy … under which I will create 50 websites and with the help of Trojan Faking … it is the name of a virus … it is the name of new computer virus … it automatically opens the other sites on other computer systems … the comments we have written will show up there on their comments section automatically … likes will increase thus automatically).” According to Patel 3 per cent income of IT companies of Bangalore is coming from this kind of political work and BJP is contributing the major share: “Kya hai Sir … BJP ke (Sir … BJP).”

Abhishek Kumar, Virinchi Software, Patparganj, Delhi

An enterprising Abhishek Kumar shows us cartoons of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the slogan on Robert Vadra, posted there on the message board: “Congress ka haath Damaad ke saath (Congress’s hand [symbol] is always with its son-in-law [Vadra]).” We couldn’t resist appreciating the creative genius behind the hard-hitting message and know we are talking to the right man. Kumar will do negative propaganda against the fictitious Netaji’s opponent, but using a different method, saying: “… ek aadmi ko matlab maarne ke kiye ek hi tareeke ka istemaal hahin kiya jaata (… you don’t have to use the same method to kill a man).” Each day they would pick up an achievement of Netaji and share it with their group of one lakh visitors. This way, says Kumar: “Iss tareh se wo ek lakh se kai crore tak pahunchta hai (This way it reaches many crores through the one lakh).” This is how it goes viral. The loopholes of the opposite camp would be exploited in the same manner for negative publicity, but says Kumar: “Lekin ye kis angle se kar rahe hain wo dekhna hai (But we will have to see what angle we have to use).” Kumar is running a campaign for the BJP on social media, and the job has been subcontracted to his company by a Bangalore-based firm. To show how effectively they are doing a campaign for the BJP on social media, Kumar shows another message posted by his team and reads out for us: “Cheen India mein ghus raha hai wo chhodo bas Modi Gujarat aur 2012 ya 2002 yaad rakho … Pakistan ghuspaith kar raha hai humare sainik ke sar kaat liye wo chhodo … Modi Gujarat aur 2002 yaad rakho … unees sau chaurasi ka danga theek hai … chara ghotala wo chhodo bas Modi Gujarat aur 2002 yaad rakho (China is invading India, leave it, only remember Modi Gujarat and 2012 and 2002 … Pakistan is invading us beheading our soldiers on the border, leave it as well, only remember Modi Gujarat and 2012 and 2002 … 1984 riots are okay … fodder scam leave that as well … remember only Modi Gujarat and 2002 …).” This evocative message, Abhishek claims, has reached millions of Indians: “Lakhon karono tak pahunch gai baat aur dekho yahan daba ke comments (This has reached millions of people … and see the flood of comments).” And this magic is done with a pool of network groups. Kumar claims: “Mere yahan log itni pahunch wale hain (I have people with really good connections).” It means you are doing a negative campaign against Congress Party? Nodding, Kumar replies: “Haan … (Yes).” They will do a negative campaign against Netaji’s opponent in the same manner as they are doing against Congress. Look at the audacity with which he is planning to make a damaging content against Rahul Gandhi to go viral on social media a few days before elections: “Dekha aise hi rape … arre bhaiya sab idhar udhar ghuma fira ke rakhte hain … hum kuch nahin keh rahe hain inse milo … parho toh neeche masala … bata deta hoon aapko (See, this is about a rape … they keep the content ready by twisting it here and there … we are not saying anything on our own … look here … read the spicy stuff below … let me tell you about it).” It involves one Sukanya Devi. He then goes on to explain what the affair was: “Inka jo Rahul Gandhi aur … Mittal inki ek purani friend thi … uska thoda kuch hai … usko inhone bana liya ki gangrape hua hai … usne shayad kuch case bhi kiya tha … wo hi toh hai neeche likha hua ye sab baatein jo hain (This Rahul Gandhi … he had a friend called … Mittal … there was some affair … they have made it out into a gang rape … she had perhaps filed a case also … this is what is written all here below).” This is how he would do negative publicity against anybody by digging out all the muck.


 

Vivek Arora, Prismartec, Nand Dham Industrial Estate, Marol Maroshi Road, Andheri East, Mumbai

To begin with, Vivek Arora will hire a good photographer, with an equally good writer, to capture our Netaji in action. The video will be telecast live on YouTube. Says Arora: “…YouTube hai ye humara live play hona chahiye … Facebbok pe live relay hona chahiye … aisa ho matlab ki aaj hua hai raat ko hua hai (…it should play live on YouTube … it should relay live on Facebook … I mean it should look like to have happened tonight only).” But he won’t allow public to react and write bad comments about Netaji. To make our campaign on social media untraceable, Arora would get a secured connection and all the IP addresses he would use would be disabled. Listen to him: “… aapke saare ke saare jo IP address hain wo sab disable ho jaate hain … kisi ko pata hi nahin lagega kahan se aa raha hai ye (… all your IP addresses will be disabled … nobody will come to know from where all this is coming).” To ensure the IP addresses are not tracked and blocked, he would use instead an American IP address: “… kyonki IP address block ho jaate hain … hum IP address divert kar sakte hain IP Sir US ka ho jayega (…because IP addresses get blocked … we can divert IP addresses … it will be a US IP Sir).” He will fabricate all likes on Facebook for us and would hire college students. Sending sms to voters two-three days before elections is not a problem for Arora: “… toh humko fir ek US ka angle lagana padega ki third party se sms aa raha hai waisa karna padega humko (… they will tell you to do it independently … so we will have to get a US angle and send the sms with the help of a third party).” This is how he is going to beat our opponent, without us coming into picture ever, with the help of an offshore blogger: “Hum ek random blogger create kar denge wo bhi US se directly … aur Facebook pe Facebook pe aaj jitna yahan pe negative publicity karoon main agar doosre jo aap layenge humare saamne ki bhai ye thoda sa mudda uthayein jo negative usko aap uthayein … wo hum yahan pe uthayenge usko (We will create a random blogger that too directly from the US … and on Facebook … there is no limit to negative publicity on Facebook that I can do today … you have to bring before us a negative issue to raise it … we will raise is it here).” The negative campaign will be run from the United States, with a team of four–five members of Indian origin there: “Wo toh wo toh hum US ka hi ayega wo toh direct US se kaam hoga … nahin nahin wo toh kaam hi US se hi hoga (That will come only from the US … that will be done directly from the US … no, no .. that job will be done from the US only).” Asking us to wait to see all kinds of fireworks once the project gets going, he says he would hack the website of our political opponent a few days before elections: “Site hi down kar denge … site down ho jayegi (Site will be brought down … site will be brought down).”


Vishal Saini; Harmeet Singh, Webstreaks, Derawal Nagar, New Delhi

Both Vishal Saini and Harmeet Singh are forthcoming and tell how the BJP had run a similar campaign against Congress and has come up triumphant. They will mention local issues in our campaign showing the negative side of the incumbent government. Saini claims: “Negative chahiye uske andar … agar wo Congress hai toh BJP ki nikali jayegi (You want negative campaign … if it is Congress then the BJP’s loopholes will be brought into open).” In other words, social media cuts both sides. There will be best posts and reviews in your favour, and there would be a separate team for the job. Saini promises to create 10 lakh likes on Netaji’s Facebook page: “Haan teek hai dus lakh ke aas paas tak likes chahiye (Yes … all right if you want about 10 lakh likes).” Negative feedback, if any, would be immediately deleted by Saini’s team. These likes will be generated both manually and using a software. The likes thus created will be a mix of genuine and dummy. His friend Harmeet Singh explains how they will do negative campaign against Netaji’s opponent: “Ek aur cheez ho sakti hai iss kaam mein ki jaise page hum apni positivity show karne ke liye kar rahe hain na … wahi cheez hum unki negativity show karne ke liye ek alag page banayein … ki jaise matalb … why not choose … why not elect Congress … yahan pe (One more thing can be done … we can create a page to show negativity of that fellow the same as way we are creating a page to show our positivity … I mean, for example, tell them why not choose … why not elect Congress … here).” Harmeet gives an idea how they can destroy the reputation of our political opponent with the help of a video: “… hum kya kar sakte hain ek teen minute ka sarhe teen minute ka … wo bana liya … ijkse andar uske jitne kaale kaam hain wo likhte rahenge aur usko itne aise ache artistic tareeke se dikhaya ki banda bore bhi nahin ho raha aur dekh bhi raha hai … pehle image aa rahi hai fir text aa raha hai … ye dekho ye isne kiya hai iska saboot ye raha … ye isne kiya hai iska saboot ye raha (… what we can do is we can make a three-minute or three-and-a-half minute long video … in which we will describe all his misdeeds … and this will be depicted in such an artistic way that the visitors will not get bored watching it … the image will show up first, then will follow the text … [telling the watcher] look the fellow has done this and the proof is here).” This video will be uploaded and promoted through viral marketing, chips in Saini. It is like spreading rumour. An example of this viral marketing, according to Saini, is the recent riots that took place in Muzaffar Nagar of Uttar Pradesh. Viral marketing against our opponent will be done using a fake ID and assembled laptop. Listen to Saini: “Viral marketing ke liye ek bilkul fake ID … laptop assembled (For viral marketing [we will use] a fake ID … an assembled laptop).” Both the fake ID and the laptop used thus are destroyed after they have served their purpose, without leaving a trace.

 

Sanjeev Singh; Ravi Agarwal, Webolaxy, Malviya Nagar, New Delhi

They are seasoned hands, assures Ravi Agarwal: “… toh humne Congress BJP sabke liye kar rakha hai (… so we have done it both for Congress and for BJP).” They have been in this business of reputation management on social media for the past five years and have worked for parties like Congress and BJP. As the duo describes a host of services they can bring to our table, Agarwal claims on camera to have worked for Modi: “Narendra Modi ka Sir fan page jo hai na … hum log Ahmedabad ki ek company hai unka hum log bhi kaam kar rahe hain usmein … All About Ads company hai … event company hai … unke saath mein hum partnership mein Narendra Modi ji ke Facebook page pe bhi kaam kar rahe hain (Sir, there is this fan page of Narendra Modi’s … there is a company in Ahmedabad … all About Ads company hai … it is an event company … we are working in partnership with them on the Facebook page of Narendra Modiji’s).” Agarwal knows the pulse of our society ridden with biases of language, caste and creed, and knows how he can engineer such sentiments to make political capital. One has to reach out to voters in their own language which Agarwal calls as language calling, a concept new to India. Listen carefully how casually he puts it: “… profile banayenge … har dharma ke logon ki … maan lijiye agar mussalman hain toh BJP se mussalman log kum jude hue hain … toh hum pachas profile mussalman ke banayenge … fake profile … aur wo keval minister apne jo hain jo aapke jo Neta hain unki badai karenge … haan … aur kya hai na ye alag alag profile jo hogi ye saari jaise maan lijiye Raheem ke naam se ek profile banai … theek hai … ab ye Raheem kya karega saare mussalman logon ko apni profile mein jodega kyonki direct BJP se koi judega nahin (… we will make profiles of people of all religions … suppose there are Muslims … now only few of them are associated with the BJP … so we will make 50 Muslim profiles … fake profile … and they will only praise the minister, your Netaji … yes … and with these different profiles … for example, we make profile in the name of Raheem … Ok … now what this Raheem will do is he will link all Muslims to his profile because no Muslim would like to associate with the BJP).” Look at how Agarwal would destroy the reputation of our opponent, applying the same method. “Negative aap chahte ho unki burai karein (By negative you mean to defame him).” Listen to the revelation Agarwal is going to make: “Kya hai na usmein kya hai na ki jaise ki aapne dekha hoga anticongress.com … unki fake profile banayenge … uss fake profile ko hum promote karenge … abhi ek aapko dikhate hain example Sir … dikhana wo … usko judayenge logon ko fake logon ko judayenge … burai karenge unki jo (What there is, you must have seen, for example, anticongress.com … we will make his fake profile … we will promote that fake profile … let us show you an example Sir .. [to his colleague] … show that … will get it linked to fake people who will say bad things about him).” Agarwal reassures of the result: “Wo Sir itni profile bana denge itni profile bana denge Internet pe itni profile … kum se kum … log honge chaar hazar Facebook pe negativity daalenge (Sir, we make so many profiles on the Internet that we will at least 4000 people doing this negativity stuff on Facebook).” We also come to know that the duo have contributed heavily to Narendra Modi’s following on this digital world. Listen carefully to what Singh says: “Bahut laye hain Sir (We have brought many likes for him Sir).”

Agam Panwar and Rakesh, Blue Sapphire Creations, Lajpat Nagar, Delhi

At the outset Rakesh claims to have bailed out a scam-tainted senior army officer with his reputation management skills on social media, although he would never reveal the identity of the said officer. Listen to Rakesh making the claim on camera to have provided such services to many clients: “… humne kai logon ke ORM kiye hain … jaise humare Google pe kisi ka galat naam aa gaya ki bhai ismein ye corruption hai funs gaya kaam … ye iss officer ne chori kiye hain … usko saaf karne ka kaam jo hai wo humne kiya … usko saaf karne ka kaam jo hai wo humne kiya hai … (… we have done ORM [online reputation management] for many people … for example, we have a fellow whose name was earning flak on Google for involving in a particular corruption case … his work gets stuck … this officer has done this thefts … we did this name cleaning job for him … ).” When Cobrapost reporter asks how they would manage to secure fan following for Netaji, Agam Panwar has this to reveal: “Saari ki saari aati hai iss madhyam se … mujhe pata hai … main kyonki … politicians ka bhi kar chuka hoon … past mein toh mujhe pata hai aapko exactly kya chahiye … kyonki ek toh BJP ke spokesperson hai Sanjay Kaul …. unka maine hi kiya hai … Facebook pe saara aap jaake dekhiyega (All following comes through this medium only … I know … because I have done it for politicians as well … in the past … so I know it what exactly you need … there is this BJP spokesperson Sanjay Kaul … it was I who did it for him … you can visit Facebook and see it yourself).” Now Kaul has a good number of following in the digital world, claims Panwar. To defeat our opponent in this ORM war, Panwar wants work on in a proactive mode so that if anything unpleasant happens we can give a befitting reply to our competitor. Panwar promises us to deliver one lakh likes by November: “Toh November tak itne hi kar lete hain … itne kar lete hain (Then … by November we will do this much).” Panwar makes another shocking but interesting claim: “Main aapko clear bata raha hoon … maine dono terah se kaam kiye hain … politicians ke liye … even maine toh CBI aur Raw walon ka kaam kiya hai (I am telling you clearly … I have done both kinds of work … for politicians … even, I have done this work for CBI and RAW officers …). ” Using his ORM skills Panwar claims he helped a scam-tainted senior RAW clear his name from the Internet. The officer is back with the external intelligence arm of the Indian Government. Then there is a CBI officer and a chief minister of Punjab and how they mastermind a scam, and how he helped the officer redeem his image. Their operations would remain untraceable. Look what he claims: “Google pe baap bhi nahi dhoondh sakta … mere yahan proxy code lage hue hain … jab jab hum kaam karte hain toh location change hote rehta hai unki har ek ghante mein (Nobody even among the experts can find it out on Google … I have put in place proxy codes … so when we are working the location of the codes keeps on changing).” Panwar will destroy the reputation of our political opponent on social media: “Dekho Sir mujhe bas ye pata hai ki mujhe koi news milegi … uska positive negative karna aata hai … agar aap kahoge iska image barbad kar de kar doonga … aur wo bhi image bacha ke humari … (You see Sir … I know only this much that if I get some news I can make positive or negative out of it … and if you ask me to destroy the image of this man [our opponent], I will do it … that too keeping our image clean).”

Priyadarshan Pathak, Websol Media, Railway Road, Gurgaon

According to Priyadarshan Pathak, Facebook is the best media available for promotion. The biggest benefit of Facebook is that you can categorize the likings of the individuals who visit the page. Although Twitter is not a paid service as Facebook is, yet Pathak can get us packages of followers: “Toh dekhiye Twitter ka kya hai ki Twitter ka kahin paid services filhal nahin hai … agar humein operate bhi karna hai toh US se karna hota hai … toh main unse packages mangwa sakta hoon ki followers ke packages wahan se mujhe bhej dein wo (The problem with Twitter is that it does not have any paid service … if we want to operate it we will have to operate it from the US … I will ask them to send us packages of followers).” His company is also handling, we are informed, Narendra Modi’s campaign on social media. Pathak says he would assign our netaji’s campaign to a Congress baiter who is a die-hard Modi fan: “Main aise bande ko aapke ispe lagaoonga … wo Congress se bahut wo hai … matlab khilaf hai (I will get a fellow on this project of yours … who hates Congress …).” A dentist by profession, this fellow generates about 2000 likes a day on his page. Pathak promptly shows us pages created by his friend of various BJP luminaries, and calls him up asking him to come over to meet us. Nothing wrong is allowed to show up on our Facebook page as they would set certain parameters on the page. Pathak claims: “Jo banda yahan baitha rahega na wo humesha … agar ye kuch karta hai na toh wo humesha kisi ne kya comment diya hai … kuch galat diya hai toh turant wahan se remove karega (the fellow who sits here will always … he observes what kind of comments the fellows have written … if there is some mal-comment is given he will remove it immediately).” Pathak would launch an attack on Netaji’s opponent a few days before election, using a different tool, a dongal as a static IP, to avoid detection. He can do negative campaign from abroad, as well: “Aap chahen toh bahar se bhi karwa sakte hain … bahar se b hi karwa dete hain … bahar ki IP se bhi karwa dete hain (If you wish, we can get done from abroad as well … will get it done from abroad … will get done using an overseas IP).” This would be done by hacking an offshore system with the help of Team Viewer software: “… Team Viewer software sabpe daala hua hai … usmein kya hota hai ki jaise bahar se koi mail aaya toh us client ka computer humare system pe aa jaata hai … humare iss pe aa gaya … hum kya karenge yahan par … hum uske system pe chahe jo bhi open kar sakte hain jo bhi chahein wahan pe chala sakte hain … toh hum yahi karte hain (… every computer is equipped with Team Viewer software … what happens there is suppose we receive a mail from a client abroad … his computer appears on our system … we get it on our system … what will we do here … whatever we want we can open on his system … whatever we want to run we can run there … this is what we do).” Then, he will write all nasty things about the opponent. It is safe and hassle free when he is not using his IP address: “Wo band karne ki bhi zaroorat nahin hai kyonki humara IP yahan se type hi nahin hua … haan … mujhse kya keh rahe ho jaaka pakdo usse (No need to close it down because we have not typed our IP … [in case someone comes calling on us, I will tell them] … yes … why bother me … go and catch that fellow).” He would send bulk sms using soft code which makes it difficult to trace. Netaji’s opponent will be attacked both on Facebook and on Twitter, in a similar way, as he says: “Usmein hum kya karenge ki hum … usmein jo bhi pratikriya … uske baare mein jo bhi dikhana hai wo hum bahar se dikhayenge (What we will do for that … whatever the reaction … whatever we have to show about him we will do it from outside).” This will be done through a different company: “Dono ka alag alag company se karaoonga … positive ka alag company se … negative ka alag company se (I will get both done from different companies … positive will be done by a different company … negative will be done by another company).” We meet Pathak again to see if he is able to deliver what he is promising after asking him to throw all the muck on a fictitious company, Mercury Aviation, and he does not disappoint (see box).

Rohit Mahajan, Director; Mohit Mahajan, Director; Shwetank Pathak (Sales Head); Vikas Chopra (Sr. Team Leader), Cloudmay India, Sector 16, Noida, Uttar Pradesh

After the Cobrapost reporter gets some idea how these professionals will do online reputation management for Netaji, Shwetank Pathak says: “Toh aapko seedhe seedhe bata dein jis tareh ka kamm aap kar rahe ho uss … usmein already hum log involve hain … ab aap ye dekho ye mera kaam chal raha hai jo main Facebook pe already hoon … ye jis party ki aap baat kar rahe ho na uss tareeke ke blogs humein likhne padenge … theek hai … ab ispe kitne ye dekh lo aapka hi kaam chal raha hai (Then, I should tell you straightaway that the kind of work you want us to do … we are already involved in that … now you can see my work is already going on … I am on Facebook … the party you are talking about … we will have to write similar blogs for you … all right … now you can see here … we are working for your party).” The party these gentlemen are working for is BJP and the man is none other than Narendra Modi. They all agree to run a negative propaganda against our opponent. They will make a website in the name of our opponent on which all the defamatory things will be posted. Giving an example of an anti-Modi website, pheku.in, they together reveal their modus operandi. Says Vikas Chopra: “Toh uspe anti-Modi post aati hai … aise hi Pappu ka bana hua hai ispe … uspe Rahul Gandhi ke against aati hai saari (So, we receive anti-Modi posts there on that … it is just to make fools of people … on that we receive posts against Rahul Gandhi).” They are managing two websites, each for our Man Modi and Rahul Gandhi. Mohit Mahajan says they will put a journalist on the job to dig out all the muck against our opponent. Their own team members will throw all kinds of curses at our opponent: “Haan wo kar sakte hain … wo jab humare bande likhenge shame on you … shame on you … shame on you (Yes … they can do it … when they will write shame on you … shame on you … shame on you …).” It is going to be hassle free for us as the seedy operation will be conducted through a US server. Mahajan says: “Nahin nahin hum log yahi kahenge ki ye jo kaam ha ye hum US ke server se karenge … ek aadh din dhoondega ki kahan se hua hai … US se hua hai (No, no … we will assure you that this job will be done using a server based in the US … he will try to find out from where it has been done for a day or two … it has been done from the US).” A couple of days later, Cobrapost reporter meets again with Vikas Chopra and Mohit Mahajan, where they declare they have entered into a tie-up with Facebook which will spare them a staff member to work dedicatedly on this project. Says Vikas Chopra: “Humein ek banda denge humare saath baith ke proper kaam karega … US mein rahega wo humare saath kaam karega (They [Facebook] people will depute one of their employees to work proper with us … he will stay in the US and work with us [on this project]).” Look what Mohit Mahajan is offering: “Ek cheez aur Facebook mein … ek toh Facebook mein hum banayenge aapki profile aapka page … ek banayenge aapke fans ke page jo honge at least bees, pachees tees page honge aise jo kahenge ki … sirf aapki tareef kar rahe hain (There is one thing more in Facebook … we will make a profile for you and a page on Facebook … then we will create 20, 25, 30 pages of your fans … who will always praise you).” He even offers to get at least a couple of US newspapers to carry news items on Netaji, through which he calls paid press. Telling us the merits of a data-management software that his team will use to run the call center, Mohit claims he can gather a crowd of thousands in no time. To buttress their claim that they can deliver what they are promising, Chopra is quick to say: “Kyonki ab BJP ke aur logon ke liye bhi agar kar rahe hain toh humein pata hai kyonki unhone humare mein capability dekhi hum kar sakte hain tabhi hum … (Because when we are doing for other leaders of BJP then we know they have seen the capability in us that we can deliver … that is why we …).”

R.N. Sangwan, Managing Director; Amit, Alliance Softech, Dwarka, New Delhi

Here we first meet Amit who simply tells us to buy likes for Netaji’s Facebook campaign. These come in various packages of US fans, worldwide fans, country-target fans, available by dime a dozen. However, his boss, R.N. Sangwan, gets to talking business as soon as he joins in. As the parleys move on, he tells us marketing on social media is safe: “… marketing social media aap nahi kar rahe … doosra koi aapke baare mein agar kuch logon ko bata rah hai uspe koi control nahi hota … because logic hai …. election commission aapki party ke upar hoga … Netaji ke upar hoga … humare upar thoda na election commission ka rule lagenge (… you are not doing social media marketing … if some other fellow something about you, then nobody has any control over it … because it has a logic … election commission might be above your party … election commission might be above your Netaji … but no election commission rules apply to us).” Sangwan promises to deliver one lakh likes on the Facebook page of Netaji: “Aaj commitment karte hain justified tareeke se kum se kum ek lakh hits aapko karke denge (If we make a commitment today, then we can get you one lakh hits in a justified manner).”

Fuad Mandlik, Director, Live Pages Infotech, Goregaon, Mumbai

At the outset, Mandlik offers to set up an entire unit complete with expert content developers: “Matlab aapko ek full unit karne ke iye mil jayega aapko … direction dikhana hoga aapko (I mean, you will get a full unit to work for you … you will have to give us direction).” He will get support on Facebook, like he did earlier for another party and likes on Netaji’s page will be generated by his team members: “Haan wo toh likes likes barhate jaynge … wo hum dete jayenge networking … matlab … viral networking (Yes … they will keep increasing the likes … they keep on giving like … networking … viral networking).” These likes may as well be bought from different networks of people. He will also create a big fan-following on Twitter. He too will do negative publicity against Netaji’s opponent, with the help of a different team with a different IP address: “Agar ye matlab kisi ke against mein likhna hai to wo against mein likhne wala again I have to first figure out ki meri yahi team nahi karegi wahi kaam … haan kyonki wo fir ek IP ke through ho jayega (If you mean it has to be written against somebody … then the writer … again I have to first figure out that my this team will not do that job … yes … because then it will go through the same IP).” Advising us to hire advisors on cyber crime so as to forbid us not to cross the limit, interestingly Mandlik says that the negative publicity will run from outside India: “Iske liye toh ye cyber limit mein aata ha isko hum logon ko bahar se karna padta hai (For this [negative publicity] … this falls under the limits of cyber [law] … so we have to do it from outside).”

Neeraj Kumar, Valuebound Interactive Solutions, Koramangala, Bangalore

Neeraj is one of the directors of Valuebound. Neeraj doesn’t disappoint Cobrapost, as he claims to have helped not only Indian politicians but also a US politician: “Humne toh US mei bhi kiya hua hai bahut … jamke matlab ek candidate ke liye (We have done [this kind of job] a lot in the US … for one candidate).” He will create 10 lakh likes on Netaji’s Facebook page using dummy accounts. After the dummy accounts are created, a team takes charge of creating the content. Neeraj is ready to malign Netaji’s opponent putting in place a separate team: “Matlab doosre logon ka jo negative hai (You mean [you want us to do] negative [publicity] against the other party).” His team will raise certain issues and create hype around them against our opponent, and they will themselves dig out the information to be used against the opponent: “Haan hum khud hi nakalenge … (Yes, we ourselves dig it out).” You need just to plant a story about the opponent in a newspaper, suggests Neeraj, the rest his team will do, and it will become a truth for the public: “Wo public ka view ban jaati hai na fir aap samajh rahe hai na (Then it becomes public’s view … do you understand).” They use US-based servers: “Dekhiye humara koi bhi kaam hota hai na locally jo machine bhi hai na toh machine mein kuch bhi nahin hota hai … humara US-based server hai toh direct uss server pe kaam karte hain log done kiye data khatm uss laptop se ya jo bhi hai (You see, whatever job we do we don’t it locally on our machine … we a US-based server … so we work directly on that server … as soon as the job is done data is gone from the laptop or whatever we use).” To make their operations untraceable, they would form a company for a specific project, and wrap it up as soon as it has served its purpose. Listen to what Neeraj says: “Ek simple si baat hai ek company float karenge … office lenge aur poora saal wahi pe rakhenge wo poora kaam US mein kar rahe hai … khatma kar denge … poori team dissolve ho jayegi (This is so simple a thing … we will float a company … will rent out an office and work from there the whole year … the whole job will be done by them in the US … [as soon as the project is over the company] will be wrapped up … the whole team will be dissolved).”

 

Smeeta Thakare, Creative Head; Vipin Patil, Business Head, Integerz e-Business Solutions, Borivali, Mumbai

The team at Integerz e-Business Solutions would create likes on Facebook in a manner that looks genuine. Says Vipin Patil: “Bas matlab … 25 din mein sab hona … saat sarhe saat hazar honge ek mahine mein (I mean … in 25 days … in a month there will be 7000–7500 [likes]).” Then, it will be taken to a count of 1000, 1200–1500 a day. Similarly, Integerz will be able to give us about 5 lakh fan-following on Twitter. This reputation management will not be complete if criticism against Netaji is allowed to show. Both Smeeta Thakre and Patil will see to it that criticism from opposition quarters is filtered. Says Smeeta: “Ye jo medium hai ye thoda open medium hai (This is somewhat an open medium).” Complements Patil: “… toh usmein humko criticism filter bhi karna padega (… so we will also have to filter criticism).” Smeeta gives an example of an European company for which they did online reputation management to the client’s satisfaction. They will target the opponents using their failures. Says Patil: “Matlab aisa ho sakta hai jaise … ek kaam karo kisi ko ek target pakdo jaise uss Congress pe kuch bhi criticism aa rahe hain … wo toh hum use kar sakte … see ek tareeka hota hai jismein aa … hum khud apne achievement pata hai aur ek doosra tareeka hota hai jismein doosri party apne jo opposition wale hain unka failure jo log khud hi kar rahe hain (I mean … it can be so … for example, do one thing … target a thing … Congress is receiving criticism … we can use that … you see there is one method … we know our achievements … another method is that people are themselves commenting on the failures of the other party, our opposition).” Defamatory sms would be sent via a third country: “Uska doosra tareeka hai ki doosre site se … sms jaake kar sakte hain … out of country se karwana padega (There is another method … we can do sms using someone else’s site … that will be done from out of country).” To avoid tracking, they will use an offshore server. Listen to Patil: “Ismein aisa hata hai ki server ka jo thoda toh usmein chance hota hai pakde jaane mein jaisa hota ki ye jo matlab wo toh kal … server jo hota hai toh access jo server se udhar se kiya jaata hai (What happens in this is whatever chance is there if the server being tracked … I mean … we access the server from there).” Or, still better, they will hire some other agency to get the content posted from the US. Says Patil: “Wo wahan jaake fir karenge ya fir kaise karne ka ki wahan ke agency jisko pakad ke wo wahan se hi post kar denge (We will do it from there or will catch hold of some agency there to post [the content] from there).”

 

Tusar Kumar, Business Development Manager; Pratik Chaudhry, Creative Head; Richie Chauhan, Executive Vice President, Tekege Solutions/Ergo Agency, Shapur Jat, New Delhi

The trio forms a formidable combination to make everything happen. For instance, Pratik Chaudhry will join the group of our opposition party to launch a negative campaign against it: “Facebook mein hum kya karenge ki hum ek individual log karke hum ek apna account banayenge … uske baad hum saare jitne bhi Congress leader hain ya Aam Admi Party hai jo bhi hai hum unke groups ko join karenge aur ussi ke andar ek aam admi ki tareh hum unke baare mein likhenge toh jo bhi likhega usko poori samajh hogi ki kya chal raha hai … kya negative hai toh wo ek individual ke tareh usmein negative promotion karega (What we will do in Facebook we all will open individual accounts … after that we will join the groups of all the Congress leaders or those of Aam Admi Party and there in those groups we will write like ordinary citizens about them … so whosever will write will know fully what is going on … what is negative … so he will do a negative promotion as an individual).” To keep the possibility of the operation being tracked at bay, Tusar Kumar says: “Aap ye track nahi kar sakte ki ye wahi aadmi tha ya issi aadmi se nikal raha hai ya registered hai Techedge ke naam pe … hum alag IP addres se usko track karenge (You cannot track to ascertain that this is the man who is doing this … or this was registered in the name of Techedge [their company] … we will keep track of our operation using different IP addresses).” They will set up a separate team for negative propaganda against our opponent because, as Chaudhary says: “… aaj main yahan jo negative publicity kar raha hoon toh meri soch bahut alag hai (… today when I am doing a negative publicity my thought is entirely different).” This team at Tekege/Ergo has thought it well in advance to cover their tracks. Says Kumar: “Hum site ke neeche apna naam mention nahin karenge ki ye maintain kisne kiya hai (We will not mention our name below the site declaring who is maintaining the site).” They will use an offshore server. Says Kumar: “Chamelon server use karenge (Will use Chamelon server).” Chaudhary seconds him. In the meanwhile, Richie Chauhan joins in. Chauhan has studied and worked in the Unites States for 15 years. His business interests are looked after by his partner Jessica, an expert in digital marketing. According to him: “Unka kaam … unhone kaam kiya hai … Dream World se lekar wahan pe Dream Formations, US Army aise aise … companies ke liye kaam kiya hai (She [Jessica] has worked with companies like Dream World, Dream Formations, US Army and others).” She has worked even for UN campaigns on digital medium. Listen to Chauhan: “Thoda sa aapko bacha ke rakhna hai usase … tab toh America se hi karwa dete hain … tab aapko koi pakdega hi nahin (We have to keep you safe from all this [hassle] … so we will get it done from America … then nobody will catch hold of you).” The job will be done in America, both positive and negative campaign: “Positive toh karna asaan hai … dekhiye positive se gussa nahin hota … negative se gussa hoga … wo bahar se hi karwayenge (Doing positive campaign is easy … you see nobody will become angry over positive [publicity] … negative will make him angry … we will get this done from outside India).” And it will be none other than the Unites States.

 

Prashanth Maxim Sequeira, CEO and MD, Arokia IT Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore, Karnataka

Unlike others, Prashanth Maxim Sequeira is not the one to launch a frontal attack on Netaji’s opponent. He would rather do so much positive publicity for our Netaji that there would no need for us to go for any negative publicity against our opponent. His mantra is the more the positive comments made the easier to erase negative publicity. Then he would add some bad comments on the site of the opposite party: “Uske site mein ek aur bura daalenge … haan … bura daalenge aur ye bura doosre kisi aur ke upar daal denge (We will add more bad comments to his site … yes and this bad comment will be added by someone else).” The trick lies in creating fake profiles, says Sequeira: “Hum log kya karte hain fake profile create karte hain (We create fake profiles).” But fake profiles are made after analyzing a matter and the content made accordingly to give each a new look. The other method that Sequeira adopts is getting paid followers: “Doosra hai ki paid followers lene padenge (The second is we will have to get paid followers).” This is how the count of followers is raised drastically, to thousands, in short span of time. The likes will also be created by with the help link exchange with their networked teams. Sequeira claims to have helped two BJP MPs from Karnataka with their social media campaign: G.M. Siddeswara and Janardhana Swamy. He would post a morphed video of our opponent in compromising position on his page: “Haan uske liye theek hai … uske liye dummy type create karke ussko bana buna ke do din ke liye chaar din ke liye yaar hungama machana hai (All right for that … we create a sensation for two four days by creating a dummy type).”


Prateek Patel, Director, Unlock Technologies, Mahiveer Nagar, Kandivali West, Mumbai

Prateek Patel grabs Cobrapsot offer at once. He says he would buy a database and send sms via Singapore: “ … sms toh database khareedte hain toh hi ho sakta hai sms … koi waisa nahi hai … Sir hum log jo database khareedte Ok … sms bhejne ka jo hai abhi yahan se India se problem ho gaya … usually abhi India se nahi bhejte Singapore se bhejte hain (We will have to buy database only then can we send sms … there is no other way for sms … Sir the database we will buy … Ok … it is a problem for sending sms in India … so usually we don’t send sms from India … we don’t send it from it … we send it from Singapore).” There are restrictions in Singapore as to the number of sms one can send. Discussing with Cobrapost reporter how he would make videos and other content on Netaji’s promotion go viral on YouTube, Patel would use an innovative mobile phone application, Whatsapp, to forego the need of sms, by making small clips and compressing their file size, to forward them further. We can buy likes from syndicates of the United States. Prateek suggests to launch attack on Netaji’s opponent from the Philippines, putting Indians on the job: “… jo Philippines mein humari jaisi company rahegi unko main boloonga ki tumhara jo staff hai … unko ye naam hai ye naam se aap account kholo … theek hai … aur ye particular jo parties hai ye party ke baare mein ganda likhna hai (… there will be a company like ours in the Philippines … we will tell their staff these are the names … open accounts in these names … Ok … and here is this particular party … you have to write all bad things about this party).”


Atul Tibrewala, Managing Director, E-Vision Technologies, Main Avenue, Santacruz-West, Mumbai

The charismatic top honcho of E-Vision Technologies has big corporate houses among his clients. Creating 5 lakh likes is like snapping of a finger for Atul Tibrewala: “Wahi cheez hai chahne wale like … ye jitne chahe mil jayenge lekin bas ye hai ki aapki constituency pe chahiye ya all India chahiye (That is the things people who like you … likes … you will get as many as you want … but tell me if you need at your constituency level or all India level).” It will be done by his team, and the TV shows like Indian Idol do the same ways. Listen to Tibrewala: “Kya hota hai saat–aath log bithake unka yahi kaam hai … naya registration karo naya … uske upar like karo … fir doosra registration karo wo karte raho (What happens is … we place a team of seven–eight people … tell them to go for a new registration [to open an account] … do the likes there … then go for another registration … keep doing like this).” There will be 25 members in his team among which would be copywriters who are good at this job. His plan goes like this, which also includes a call centre. The call centre will help our team reach out to the voters of the constituency. Tibrewala would not only counter any scandalous thing against our Netaji that is posted by our baiters but also publish defamatory content against our opponent: “Counter karenge usko … unke baare mein kuch ghotala chhapana hai toh wo bhi chhapenge (Will counter that … if there is any scandal he is involved in we will publish that as well).” He would send defamatory sms and emails against our opponent routing them though Singapore: “Sab udhar se hi hoga idhar se kuch nahi hoga … kyonki kya hota hai koi naam hi nahin ayega … aur pata hi nahi chalega kidhar se aya (Everything will be done from there only … nothing will be done from here … because no name will show up there … and nobody will come to know from where it is coming).” Even negative sms can be sent from Singapore: “Aur agar aapko kisi ko negative bhi karna hai toh ussi sms se ho jayega (… and if you have to send something negative about somebody you can do that with that sms as well).”

 

Pradeep Gupta, PageUp Media Technologies, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh

Although Gupta is not sure how much fan-following he can manage, he nonetheless gives us a count: “Followers dekhiye kum se kum … itne mien … main … rough idea … ek ek lakh toh maan hi lein (Followers … you see … at least … I … a rough idea … take it as one lakh each [for Facebook and Twitter]).” Telling us how marketing is done on the Internet, how likes are generated by increasing links with networks of people, Gupta reveals how the job is done: “Jo like karenge … jo nahin toh naye bandon se bhi contact karke like karwa denge (They will create likes … they will contact new people to create likes).” They will be paid. Gupta would get us at least one lakh followers on Twitter as well. His team will work as general users on social media: “Hum log general user ki tareh … jaise main aapko dikha bhi sakta hoon … Hum log general user ki tareh kaam karenge ki bhai humein ye falana banda acha lagta hai aur humne iske photos ki like kar di (We will work like general users … like I can show it to you as well … we will work as genera users saying that we like this fellow so we have clicked likes on his photos).” According to Gupta, negative campaigning can be done on Facebook. Google has a ‘set of rules’ of marketing and if we don’t comply with them, they would block the site. But Facebook does not have such rules. Gupta says: “Uske liye aapko mujhe unke kuch loopholes batane padenge … joki hum usko famous karein (For that, you will have to tell me some of his loopholes … we will propagate that to make it famous).” It is simple to keep the link between the client and his company beyond scrutiny, posting comments as innocuous general users: “Hum log general user hain … aap ye mat sochein ki aap mujhe jaante hain … main aapko jaanta nahin … mujhe aapka candidate pasand tha maine like kar diya … mujhe kisi doosre ka candidate pasand nahin tha maine keh diya bhai ye toh chor hai (Nowhere would there be any linking of our name with your name … we are general users … don’t think about it … you don’t know me … I don’t know you either … I liked your candidate so I clicked the like … I didn’t like somebody else’s candidate so I said this fellow is a plain cheat).” Look how he is going to make it untraceable using a couple of Internet connections and will create hundreds of accounts from each connection. Listen to the logic: “… dekho kabhi bhi aapko Internet se tracking hogi na kabhi by chance main keh raha hoon koi aapko track bhi karna chahe … aap kehte hain email track hoti hain … email humesha IP address se track hoti hain jiska aapne Internet connection liya hai … agar mere paas chaar Internet connection hain toh iska matlab hai chaaron ke alag alag IP hain (… you see if there is tracking through Internet … by chance I say … if somebody wants to track you … you say email is tracked … email is tacked always through your IP address from which you have taken your Internet connection … if I have taken four Internet connections, then it means all four have separate IP …).” So, in this maze of hundreds of email accounts from different IP addresses, it will be impossible to track and identify the source.


Deepak Malik, Business Consultanant; Pawan, Chief Technical officer, NS Technologies, Sector 10, Noida, Uttar Pradesh

Understanding Netaji’s need for an image-making campaign on social media, Malik says: “Social media ke liye hum log karte hain viral marketing … viral marketing (We do viral marketing on social media).” Viral marketing is, Malik says, is like spreading something the same way as a viral infection catches on with more and more people. Malik says they are an old hand in managing social media: “Ye kar chuke hain … maine inse uss din bhi zikr kiya tha na ki … aisa ho chukka hai … doh baar kar chuke hain hum log … issiliye kyonki humein uss hisab se pata hai na isska humne kaam kar chuke hain (We have done this … I had mentioned it to him [Biplab] that very day that … it has happened here … we have done on two occasions … that is why we know that … we have done that kind of job).” (It is Biblab who took Cobrapost reporter to them.) Malik will deliver first and ask for the money later. In the meanwhile, Pawan joins in. As this team discusses finer points of how they operate through SEU, we come to know that likes are generated by paying Facebook, which they call paper click. There will be no negative clicks. Says Malik: “Sir, Sir, aapka jo bhi thumbs down hoga wo show hi nahin hoga (Sir, none of your thumbs down will show up).” His colleague also chips in: “Like hoga … positive hoga (It will only show likes … it will only positive).” If someone clicks the thumbs down, adds Malik, it will show 404 error. They will also malign Netaji’s political opponent. Look what Malik’s colleague is saying: “Sir bigad toh jaati hai … dekho saare kaama hote hain … hota kya hai aap bhi jaante hoge … ho toh jayega lekin humein kuch cheezen karni padengi … paper mein aa rahi hain na … (Sir, it [image] can be tarnished … all kinds of work can be done … what happens you also know … but we will have to do certain things … because they are shown on paper).” Malik says: “Abhi se start karna padega na Sir (We will have to start it right away, Sir).” What they mean is they will have to work on this negative image-building exercise gradually. But there is a condition. If something happens, Malik says: “Please humein support karoge (You will support us, please).”

 

Mahendra Bedekar, Creative Head; Amrut Patki, Senior Visualizer; Suraj Naik, Manager (Human Resources–Admin); Neeraj, Business Development Head, Tridat Technologies Pvt. Ltd., Byculla, Mumbai

All members of this team know every trick of the trade of online reputation management. Mahendra Bedekar has a typical way of getting likes on Facebook from folks who have a mob mentality, bhed chaal: “… usko bhed chaal … nahin toh simple language mein boloon toh pachas jan like kar rahe hain toh wo pachas mein se bees taka aise log rahte hain ki wo pachas dekhke bees taka like karte hain (we call it going by the mob mentality … to put it in simple language … if 50 people like a page 20 others will like the page just because these 50 are doing that).” So, it is these fellows who will be harnessed by their team working behind the scene. Their team will also provide promotional sms prepared by professionals and sent to suit time and occasion. The content is important, says Bedekar. They also offer e-mailers and bloggers. To destroy the reputation of Netaji’s opponent, they also do negative publicity. Neeraj says: “Wo wo end mein kahin last ke din … ek mahina ya derh mahina baaki reh gaya na tab karna (That … in the end … before a few last days … do it when one month or so is left).” This will be done a different team. Says Naik: “Haan alag team hogi (Yes … there will be a separate team).” As Bedekar nods, Neeraj complements: “Alag team hogi (There will be a separate team).” It can be done using applications such as Whatsapp on mobile making the negative content go viral without it ever being traced to its source. Says Neeraj: “Haan fir usne bola abhi kisko bola kisi ko pata nahi hai ab video ghoomte … ghoomte … ghoomte (Yes .. then someone told me [to forward the video] … but who told whom … nobody know … now the video will keep on circulating).” Even sms through the Internet can be a vehicle for negative propaganda against the opposite camp.


Tag : Operation Blue Virus,

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