<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rahul Gandhi has apparently found a new ally — bots. According to some BJP leaders who cited a recent news agency report, the Congress’ scion’s “newfound popularity” on social media has been “manufactured” through bots who have tweeting about him and his activities round the clock. Speaking to DNA, Amit Malviya, head of the BJP’s Information and Technology department said that the “manufactured support” showcased the “desperation” of the Congress party.”This support has been manufactured on social media to create an illusion of a resurgence because the Congress party is desperate. Incidentally, all these handles either tweet similar random stuff from across the world or tweet only about Rahul Gandhi,” Malviya said.Responding to Malviya’s charges, actor-turned-politician Divya Spandana, better known as Ramya, who took over the reigns of the Grand Old Party’s social media cell from Deepender Singh Hooda, trashed the news report.”The Story is factually wrong. Can understand your eagerness to please the I&B ministry and the Bots Janata Party,” Ramya tweeted.To prove her point she also retweeted a tweet: “10 bots on which ANI story is based, activated 4 days ago.RG’s tweet was 6 days ago. Out of 54K reaction how ANI journo identified only them?”BJP leaders charged that the Twitter handles supporting Rahul, and retweeting his tweets, were computer-generated and were dubiously coming from countries such as Kazakstan, Russia and Indonesia.The hashtag #RahulWaveInKazakh was trending on Twitter, where various people took potshots at Rahul.Union I&B Minister Smriti Irani tweeted: “Perhaps @OfficeOfRG planning to sweep polls in Russia, Indonesia & Kazakhstan ?? #RahulWaveInKazakh”.Bots have been very much in the news since the US presidential election last year. Charges that chatbots and fake Twitter accounts, supposedly created by Russians to help President Trump win the election have not gone away and now it seems that “chatbots” may become an issue in Indian politics as well.‘How bots work’ The BJP’s IT department has claimed that most of these fake accounts had less than 10 followers and only a few tweets. “This is a typical characteristic of bots. Whenever for a campaign (political or not), a spurt in apparent engagement is required, we see such bots being deployed to please the masters. So what was found behind Rahul’s spike in retweets is straight from the textbook of paid social media promotion.

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A war over bots & Rahul Gandhi tweets