How pro-Modi Twitter handles behave like bots
Be it #MainBhiChowkidaar or #ModiOnceMore, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) knows the Twitter game - how to be the top trender. However, the latest study by the DFR Labs - a part of the US-based think-tank Atlantic Council - found that when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Tamil Nadu in February, bots were utilised to manipulate the Twitter traffic.
Taking the analysis ahead, India Today has found that whenever the BJP has attempted to trend hashtags, some of its supporters have behaved like bots to manipulate the trends.
The Twitter handles of these supporters witnessed a tremendous rate of tweeting, our analysis shows. We picked three hashtags in our analysis #MyFirstVoteForModi, #ModiOnceMore and #ModiHiAyega, which trended in the last seven days. Using an online tool called TalkWalker, we found out the top two unverified users who posted with the hashtag maximum times. We analysed those users' rate of tweeting in another online tool called Twitonomy.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A BOT-LIKE ACTIVITY?
Defining bot-like activity is a tough task, however, DFR Lab does have a view over suspicious accounts. "@DFRLab views 72 tweets per day (one every 10 minutes for 12 hours at a stretch) as suspicious, and over 144 tweets per day as highly suspicious," DFR has explained in one of its pieces explaining the bot behaviour.
The hashtag attached with the rap and a pledge trended on April 9 and 10. Two most prominent tweeters were @mytentaran and @ajaykushwaha_. @mytentaran is the Twitter handle of a news website tentaran.com, founded one year ago. We reached to the owner of the website, Achal Kaushik, who claims to be a digital marketer on LinkedIn. Asked about this suspicious behaviour on Twitter, Kaushik said, "We generally take the most trending topics, do a story around it and tweet it massively just to increase our audience on Twitter."
The Twitter handle has hardly 1,214 followers which tweeted at an average of 400 tweets a day for three days. Ajay Kushwaha was another user who posted numerous times when the hashtag #MyFirstVoteForModi was trending. Kushwaha is a BJP supporter with more than 44,000 followers.
He is also followed by PM Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and many other top leaders of the party. On Twitonomy, we found that he had tweeted 560 times the day when #MyFirstVoteFor-Modi trended. Even with such huge following, Kushwaha doesn't have a verified account. In order to get a Twitter account verified, having a link to a website is mandatory. Kushwaha has linked a bogus website that doesn't have any content at all.
Another hashtag that ruled Twitter on April 10 was #ModiOnce-More. The two top non-verified Tweeters in this category were @amitsharma20482 and @Rakeshkkushwah. Amit Sharma is yet another Twitter handle followed by the Prime Minister. He hardly has 5,066 followers and on an average, he tweets at 1,066 tweets a day. Rakesh K Kushwah, had tweeted more than 700 tweets a day on April 10 and 11. Kushwah has 8,938 followers with low engagement.
#ModiHiAyega is another hashtag that trended last week on April 12. @Ch_Rahul29 and @rvsharma2008 were one of the top non-verified Twitter handles posting tweets like bots. From April 12 to 14, Rahul Singh tweeted more than 800 times a day. Rahul also has a small following of 1,098 on Twitter. Rohit Sharma, who has 1,415 followers on the social media platform, had tweeted more than 1,100 times between April 13 and 14.
RETWEET GENERATED TRAFFIC
One of the findings in our analysis was that these suspicious Twitter handles were not generating most of the content themselves, rather they retweeted most of the times On an average, retweets generated 77 per cent of the traffic coming from these handles. Though these accounts showed suspicious 'bots' like behaviour, however according to Twitter norms, they are tweeting in limits. Twitter allows a user to post 2,400 tweets a day.