The latest video of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ show has collected over 7 lakh dislikes on the Bhartiya Janata Party’s YouTube channel. In less than 24 hours, the video where PM Modi addresses the nation has become one of the most disliked videos on BJP’s YouTube channel, where Congress and AAP loyalists were found peddling a narrative that the ‘dislikes’ are due to the government’s decision to go ahead with JEE and NEET exams.
In fact, on Sunday, a propaganda was spread that the PMO had disabled comments on the latest Mann Ki Baat YouTube video fearing ‘backlash’ from students who are ‘angry’. However, that is not the case. The comments have been disabled since the programme started. That is because these videos are marked as ‘made for kids’ – where YouTube policy is such that the comments are disabled.
When that didn’t work, a deliberate attempt was made by the anti-BJP detractors to smear PM Modi’s “Mann Ki Baat” campaign by claiming that ‘students’ are now ‘disliking’ PM Modi’s video. Except, that does not seem to be the case. BJP IT in-charge Amit Malviya on Monday took to Twitter to say that international bots were commissioned to ‘dislike’ through a coordinated campaign on YouTube. Taking to Twitter, he said that there has been a concerted attempt by the Congress party to dislike PM Modi’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ video on YouTube.
Over the last 24hrs, there has been a concerted effort to dislike Mann Ki Baat video on YouTube… So low is the Congress on confidence that it has been celebrating it as some sort of conquest!
However, data from YouTube suggests that only 2% of those dislikes are from India…
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) August 31, 2020
The BJP leader added that a paltry 2 per cent of the total dislikes on the YouTube video of ‘Mann Ki Baat’ came from India. Rest, 98 per cent of the dislikes came from outside India, with social media bots from Turkey leading the social media smear campaign. The statistics and analytics page of YouTube allows the page admin to see various demography including where the ‘dislikes’ came from. Furthermore, many sources have confirmed to OpIndia that the planned online onslaught against PM Modi’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ was carried out by international social media bots.
Malviya also added that on similar lines, Congress’ anti-JEE-NEET campaign on the social media websites has seen significant participation from overseas bots, most notably from users based out of Turkey. Interestingly, in November 2019, days after Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan supported Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, Congress had opened an office in Istanbul.
Social Media Bots from Turkey sharing posts on JEE-NEET examinations
Confirming Malviya’s claims, there has been a torrent of tweets being posted on Twitter against the centre’s decision of conducting the JEE-NEET examinations in September, seemingly from users with their locations declared as Turkey. Many newly created Twitter accounts, with limited reach and their proclaimed location as Turkey, have been tweeting propaganda that is in conformity with Congress’s stand on JEET-NEET examination.
Overseas bots, putatively from Turkey, have posted and retweeted a large of tweets, expressing their disapproval against the Indian government’s decision of conducting the JEE-NEET examinations in September.
Interestingly, the Twitter campaign against the Modi government by international bots is not just limited to JEE-NEET examinations, the overseas users have also targeted India-Sri Lanka ties with the recently concluded elections in Sri Lanka.
Twitter bot, claiming from Turkey, has shared a report from Swarajya Magazine about India-Sri Lanka relationship with hashtags such as #SriLankaElections2020, presumably to spur the Sri Lankan bots to launch an online attack against the Modi government.
Another social media bot from Turkey feigned solidarity with those who had been asking the government to postpone the JEE-NEET examinations. The heightened interest of people belonging to Turkey, with no skin in the game, in India’s internal affairs, signifies that they had been hired to peddle anti-Modi propaganda on Twitter.
Congress’ long-association with international bots for social media dominance
This is not the first time that Congress has been accused of dallying with the international bots, especially from Turkey. With Congress failing to garner organic support from the social media users in India, it has often relied on overseas bots to either mount an attack against their opponents or catapult their leaders away from their flagging popularity. Earlier in 2017, it was alleged that Rahul Gandhi’s increased popularity on Twitter was attributed to overseas bots from Russia, Kazakh and Indonesia.
Gandhi’s Twitter activity had then registered a sharp spurt, belying a false impression that the Gandhi scion was enjoying an organic popularity on the microblogging website Twitter. However, on closer inspection, it was found that Rahul Gandhi’s tweets were retweeted by users with less 10 followers, who tweeted random subjects from around the world.
The similarity between the two cases cannot be overstated. Even in the lastest case, bots from Turkey and the rest of the world, who have tweeted on random subjects from around the world, have been retweeting tweets on Modi government’s decision on persevering with the scheduled JEE-NEET examinations and other policy decisions.