"An undercover operation by Cobrapost exposes how IT companies across the country are using social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to help politicians artificially boost their popularity and malign their opponents. Cobrapost has uncovered about two dozen such companies which are running this shady business of online reputation management," Cobrapost said in a press release.
The portal had codenamed the entire investigation as 'Operation Blue Virus'.
"Cobrapost exposes about two dozen IT companies across the country to be running a shady business of reputation management on social media platforms, offering their clients fake fan-following on Facebook and Twitter, and are doing negative publicity against a political leader or a party, or a corporate house, at the behest of their opposite camp, all for money. For them, building or destroying reputations online is just a click-of-a-mouse away. Clients they are serving include corporate houses, big or small, NGOs, scam-tainted senior government officials, individual politicians and political parties," it said.
As a part of the operation, Cobrapost Associate Editor Syed Masroor Hasan had posed as a front man for a fictitious politician from an opposition party and approached over two dozen IT companies with a simple proposition of launching a image building exercise for his master (referred as Netaji) on social media ahead of the assembly polls and destroy the reputation of his opponents.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however,rejected the sting operation.
Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Friday said in a Facebook post: "A large number of NGOs with invisible funding which had made a living out of keeping anti-Modi litigations alive in Courts have not so far succeeded in bringing out any material evidence against him. What does the Congress Party then do ? Suddenly a series of Websites have appeared with some stories and some non-stories."
"Anti-Modism is no longer merely a political philosophy. It is also commerce. Some of these websites are making a mountain of what is not even a molehill. The dirty tricks department of the Congress continues to commercially flourish. It is a different matter that even the tricks are failing to spread the dirt," he said.
Rejecting the sting operation, BJP leader Prakash Javadekar told media: "The BJP completely dismisses the Cobrapost sting operation on the use of social media."
--IBNS (Posted on 30-11-2013)