Twitter Test Reveals BJP’s Troll Army Pushed #BoycottSurfExcel
The Surf Excel ad showed a couple of kids playing Holi. 
The Surf Excel ad showed a couple of kids playing Holi. (Photo: Arnica Kala/ The Quint)

Twitter Test Reveals BJP’s Troll Army Pushed #BoycottSurfExcel

The French security researcher who goes by the online handle Elliot Alderson put out a Twitter thread explaining how the #BoycottSurfExcel and #SurfExcel were used by the BJP IT cell as a ‘weapon of disinformation.’

The hashtag appeared after Surf Excel came out with an ad featuring a girl challenging her neighbourhood friends to splash her with colours on Holi, so that she can protect her friend – a Muslim boy – who has to go to the mosque for prayers. The ad aimed at promoting communal harmony, received backlash on social media for allegedly portraying Holi colours as ‘daag’ and promoting ‘love jihad’.

Elliot captured tweets with the hashtags SurfExcel, BoycottSurfExcel and BoycottHindustanUnilever for two days and found that among six of the most active accounts tweeting these, four are from the BJP troll community – accounts that are dedicated to promote pro-BJP posts.

He put out a tweet with his analysis. Here’s the thread.

Also Read : After Snapchat-Snapdeal, Protesters Mix Up Surf Excel & MS Excel

“At their maximum, they are responsible for more than 10 percent of the tweet volume,” tweeted the researcher who is well-known for exposing Aadhaar leaks.

He did a reverse search on the profile picture of one of the active accounts tweeting these hashtags and found that it is a ‘cool boy’ profile picture used on Facebook. He also found that out of the total number of unique Twitter accounts that were tweeting with these hashtags, 5 percent of the accounts belong to the BJP troll community.

Congress IT Cell Lags Behind

“So what is the real impact of this community on the overall tweet volume,” tweeted Elliot. Based on his analysis, he concluded that the BJP troll community is responsible for more than 10 percent of the tweet volume.

What about the Congress IT Cell? “The Congress IT Cell is less powerful than the BJP one. At their maximum, they are able to generate only 7 percent of the overall tweet volume,” Alderson tweeted.

The security researcher concluded that between 17 to 20 percent of the tweet volume around #BoycottSurfExcel was not genuine and was made by the IT cell of a political party.

Pakistan Wasn’t Pushing #GoBackSadistModi

Earlier, On 7 March, Elliot Alderson had come up with his analysis of the hashtag GoBackSadistModi. Some right wing Twitter handles had alleged that the hashtag was pushed by Pakistani Twitter handles.

Also Read : #GoBackSadistModi Trends, PM Slammed For Trying ‘Gimmicks’ In TN

He put out a thread that listed the most influential and active Twitter accounts from when the hashtag was trending and a graph of interactions from each handle. This was his conclusion: “To conclude, sorry to break your dreams, but no, there is no indication that Pakistan is pushing this hashtag.”

Going by Elliot’s analysis, looks like the Surf Excel boycott campaign was also the dream of a few.

(Participate in the second edition of The Quint's My Report Debate and win Rs 10,000. Write an essay on how to fix India and Pakistan's relationship. Submit now)

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