In an in-depth report published on April 3, Alt News exposed how 23 websites hosted on a single IP address (220.127.116.11) spent crores of rupees creating ‘disclaimers’ to run political ads on Facebook that contained pro-BJP propaganda and targeted the Opposition. The article mentioned that 13 of these websites were ‘live’. These websites were taken down after our report was published, following which we contacted Meta officials. However, we had not received any response at the time of writing.
UPDATE : After our investigation, all the websites related to BJP’s propaganda factory which were live till yesterday are now down.
This is the investigation of just one IP Address. More stories coming soon.
Stay tuned 😉 pic.twitter.com/HQaaGiTAeQ
— Abhishek (@AbhishekSay) April 4, 2023
We were continuously monitoring these websites. In the course of that, we found that many of these websites went back to being ‘live’ on April 11 and the Facebook pages run by them were carrying political advertisements. We archived these websites on April 11 when they were down. When we saw that these websites started coming back ‘live’ one by one, we archived the ‘down’ version and ‘live’ versions. (3 websites, phirekbaarmodisarkar(.)com, mahathugbandhan(.)com, theindiancompass(.)com, went live before we could archived the ‘down’ version)
Below is an example of the comparison of the ‘down’ and ‘live’ versions of these websites.
Mainhoondilli(.)com Also Connected to this Network
We noticed that the content on Mainhoondilli(.)com was also published on the nirmamata(.)com website. However, the admin of these websites rectified this mistake immediately and it was taken down right away, so its archived version is not available.
On April 12, the admin of the website again edited this website and hosted the content of Chuntli Express on it once again. The archived version from April 12 can be accessed here. Readers can find the archived versions of chuntliexpress(.)com dated April 11 here and April 12 here. These differences can be understood more clearly in the visual comparison given below.
It is worth noting that when an advertiser on Facebook/Instagram categorizes an ad as being about social issues, elections or politics, they are required to disclose who paid for the ad.
We searched for this website in the Meta Ad Library Report and found that a Facebook page named ‘Main Hoon Dilli – मैं हूँ दिल्ली’ had mentioned the website Mainhoondilli(.)com in its disclaimer. According to the information available about this page in the Meta Ad Library Report, it spent Rs 7,32,254 between December 20, 2019 and February 8, 2020 to run 294 Facebook ads targeting Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party.
We noticed that a mobile number (6359907104) was given in the disclaimer of this page. We searched for this number in Alt News’ database and found that it had earlier been used to run advertisements on Facebook as well. We had reported that this number was mentioned by a page named ‘2019 Modi Sang Nitish – Modi Sang Nitish’ in the disclaimer to run political ads. Between March 23, 2020 and November 5, 2020, this Facebook page spent Rs. 7,85,373 to run 1,130 advertisements favouring the Bharatiya Janata Party and targeting the Grand Alliance or ‘Mahagathbandhan’. In other words, this page is also a part of this network. Alt News tried calling on this number but it was switched off.
Alt News checked the Page transparency section of this Facebook page ‘মোদীৰ সিতে অস্মাম’ using the link mentioned on the website. It mentioned that this page was created on January 9, 2023, and it is being used to run ads on Facebook.
To collect more information on this page, we searched for it in the Meta Ad Library Report and found that the page has spent Rs. 8,199 on ads in the last two months. However, the page has not mentioned the Bharatiya Janata Party in the ‘Disclaimer’.
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