At the same time, credible sources say the whopping figures pertaining to likes, followers, shares, comments, etc., beseems forged. May be an interesting argument, but it often make us think twice before blindly believing figures. Is the fetish for speaking figures about followers in social media sites actually representing facts? The answer is a big ‘no’ at least according to cobrapost.com, an investigative news portal.
Politicians are in the fray of social media conspiracy. Harsh manipulation brings about false success stories of web 2.0 politicians. The huge list of followers is a fake. The comments and shares are forged. Fabricated likes and tweets rush in to unheard of publicity. To make illustrious publicity and accomplish celebrity status, from the far left to the far right, across the spectre of politics, social media has become unavoidable.
Making, remaking, and unmaking, political class from known to unknown have tasted the sour of social website time after time. This means, publicity stunt over social media sites often mislead political class towards unhealthy practices. The contention is that paid professionals and event manages work for political class to make them celebrities like in platforms.
Over sixty percent of follower basis of two leading social media icons among the political class is manipulative, says website fakers.statuspeople.com. A report in Outlook magazine exposes the conspiracy behind web 2.0 politicians and the story of their fake followers.
Paid publicity management leads the big players’ success stories like folklore. The untold story dissected goes like this. Politicians have deployed IT companies and professionals. They assume the charges of event managers. Paid professionals and IT Companies are generating fake Likes, followers, comments. Certainly, the huge list of followers for big players seemed a matter of hype.
A sting operation by Cobrapost has revealed that IT companies are in the forefront of political class in their attempt to make huge social media followers in Facebook, YouTube, Google Plus and Twitter. It also alleged that social media has also used for malign the image of competing rivals. The undercover operation called “Operation Blue Virus” has made some “tall claims” and equally it has been rejected by experts from various corners. However, the allegation has made us bit skeptical of social media politics for our own reasons.
Narendra Modi has over nine lakh followers in Google Plus; around 60 lakh likes on his Facebook page and nearly 30 lakh followers in Twitter by January 2014. Nanrendra Modi, a potential new generation label of BJP, draws up an average of 30000 or more “Like” and copious comments for each Wall post in his Facebook account, see his social media profiles.
However, the user-generated content in his profiles are relatively poor considering the huge fan basis. This means not all profile followers are participating in deliberation and political engagement over the platforms.
In fact, politicians aspiring potential youth votes are the triumphant colonizers of fifth e-states these days by other means. Clausewitz's most famous saying about waras the continuation of politics(policy) by other means is apt here. Social media political encounter for fifth e-state vote banks are in fact, politics by other means.
There was an astonishing controversy over Ashok Gehlot’s Facebook followers in Rajasthan. It had over three lakh likes by end of January 2014. However, within June 2013 he developed over 45 thousand likes. Jaipur, which was normal popular city in his Facebook profile page, has later in the month changed to Istanbul. Some IT companies sell fake Likes; arguments go like this.
Shashi Tharoor is a case reference for political class using Twitter for political engagement in Indian political scenario since he is most active on Twitter having 21.3K tweets and 2.09 million followers as on January 2014. Despite the big numbers, the real political engagements taking shape over the platforms are comparatively low considering the retweets the tweets get time after time.
Every post by Narendra Modi gets a frantic response from a staid pattern of followers. This point to the fact that right wing has colonised their space in Fifth e-state. Moreover, the user interaction over his platforms are particularly targeted and particular class of people always get to comment and reply on each post.
Therefore, common sense does not permit us to believe that 160 million Indian middle class as the 160 million and above Internet subscribers and majority among them social media followers of so-called successful 2.0 politicians. Simple common sense tells that majority of Indians are outside Internet and the social media landscape. After all, the follower basis of web 2.0 politicians is strange bedfellows. Middle class, city centric, ‘techy’, nomadic, young ghetto India makes all this conspiracy. Long live the web 2.0 politicians!
(About the contributor: Biju P R teaches Political Science at Government Brennen College, Thalassery, Kerala. He researches on social media and political interfaces in the Indian context. Currently, he is writing two books on the same theme)