“Trend Alert: #DemonetisationSuccess. Date: 31st August; Time: 4.30 PM“. The Google doc file proceeded to provide the list of tweets that the BJP social media army, MPs and ministers faithfully shared on Twitter starting 4.30 pm on August 31st. After the RBI report revealed that 99% of the demonetised currency notes had come back, BJP social media army was joined by ministers to create an artificial buzz around the hashtag, #DemonetisationSuccess. Alt News video exposé deconstructed this copy-paste tweeting and traced the Google doc file that provided instructions and template to tweet.
The Google doc which contained the trending instructions has now been deleted. However, a screenshot of the document can be seen on Google.
This is not the first time that BJP has mobilised an online army for perception management. Alt News found several such Google doc files with a similar pattern. The files provided the date and time and a list of tweets in English and Hindi that had to be tweeted. Many of these files have now been deleted. Here are a few examples and screenshots of these templates:
Case 1: #MyNewIndia
Just like in the case of #DemonetisationSuccess, multiple ministers tweeted as part of the pre-planned #MyNewIndia trend. The corresponding Google Docs file is available here. The tweets posted by various handles match the document.
Here are the tweets by official Twitter account of BJP Maharashtra.
Here is the screenshot of the same tweets available in the Google Doc.
Case 2: #TrumpCardModi
Did you think that the appreciation on social media for Modi’s US trip was spontaneous? The #TrumpcardModi tweets were carefully crafted and instructions were followed by the ministers who copy-pasted them. The Google doc file for this trend has now been deleted but we managed to find an instance of it being shared on Facebook.
Many ministers put out messages on social media with the #TrumpCardModi hashtag.
Case 3: #DBTImpact
#DBTImpact hashtag was even used by PMOIndia Twitter account. However, his wasn’t among one of the template tweets. However, multiple Ministers, BJP leaders and official BJP Twitter accounts used template tweets for this trend. Even though the Google Doc for this trend has been deleted, we managed to get a backup of the document.
Multiple people in the BJP Machinery copy-pasted the template tweets to make the hashtag trend.
Case 4: #GSTForCommonMan
Yet another Twitter trend #GSTForCommon man also had template tweets from a Google Doc. However, the Google doc for this trend has been deleted. We managed to find a Facebook handle sharing the aforesaid Google Doc.
Again, the entire BJP machinery including ministers tweeted tailor-made tweets.
Using social media influencers and agencies for propaganda is not something new. It is not surprising to find that #DemonetisationSuccess was one such carefully planned campaign in reaction to the questions being raised about the gains of demonetisation after the RBI report. However, it was a little shocking to find even MPs and ministers tweeting as per the template and the brazenness with which this was done. People on social media follow political leaders for their original thoughts and vision, and not for their bot-like behaviour.