April 24, 2018

Bots behind rise in Rahul Gandhi's twitter popularity?

23 October 2017, 04:05 | Simon Arnold

Illustration by Siddhant Jumde

Illustration by Siddhant Jumde

The Vice president of the Congress Rahul Gandhi is planning to win the elections in Russia, Indonesia and Kazakhstan said Smriti Irani as most of his tweets were liked and retweeted by the Kazakhstan people.

Questioning whether automated bots were mass retweeting Gandhi's tweets, the report said that on October 15, "OfficeofRG" retweeted US President Donald Trump's tweet praising American-Pakistani relations with a caption "Modi ji quick, looks like President Trump needs another hug".

BJP leaders charged that the Twitter handles supporting Rahul, and retweeting his tweets, were computer-generated and were dubiously coming from countries such as Kazakstan, Russia and Indonesia. The tweet quickly reached 20,000 retweets and now has touched 30,000 re-tweets. "Saal Mubarak", Irani tweeted after Gandhi responded to a report on a Gujarat court barring publication of news on Jay Shah on Friday. Activist Tehseen Poonawalla pointed out how among those who retweeted Modi's tweets also included an escort agency. Further scrutiny of these Twitter accounts showed that the follower list was usually under 10 users and retweets comprised of random topics from across the world and those of Rahul Gandhi.

Gandhi tweeted to say: "If you are hungry, be patient!"

Rahul Gandhi's twitter handle "OfficeofRG" has been the topic of various news outlets recently, citing a rise in retweets as evidence of a resurgence of Rahul Gandhi's interaction on social media. Rajeev Chandrashekhar, NDA's Kerala chief, wrote, "Desperate times call for desperate measures?"

BJP leaders however, focused their attack on alleged bots used by the Congress to boost Gandhi's tweets, an allegation countered by the party.

Smriti Irani shared a report which raised questions on Congress vice-president's Twitter followers.

"They (the BJP) are afraid of Rahul Gandhi and his popularity", he told TV channels. Singh said these issues were raised by Rahul on Twitter, and "who is tweeting it and retweeting it... those are side issues".

Amit Malviya, the in-charge of the BJP's national information technology cell, launched an all-out attack on Rahul.

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