Memes, tweets, blogposts – social media is throwing up endless possibilities

Twitter wars inventing hashtags and recruiting bloggers The IT of TNs Dravidian parties
news Friday, April 08, 2016 - 18:51

It started getting noticed on March 4, when a meme of TN Finance Minister O Panneerselvam went viral with the hashtag #OPS4CM. It showed Paneerselvam bowing down to the Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, but shooting her a sinister expression as she walked by.  

It read, “Look at this! The tiger is crouching, only to attack.” In a matter of 10 hours, #OPS4CM began trending nationwide at No.5, with 14.2k tweets.

The reactions to the hashtag were numerous – some declared the hashtag the creation of a troublemaker trying to end Paneerselvam’s career in the AIADMK, some declared their support for Panneerselvam. 

The AIADMK’s reaction? #Alagiri4CM. It didn’t rake up as much attention as OPS, but the war on twitterverse was now clear for all to see. 

Since then, the DMK’s lodged many attacks. Many. Here’s a timeline: 

#OPS4CM :- Was trending on 4th March and was on 1st position (India)
#ByeByeJaya:- Was trending on 24th March and was on 7th position (India)
#JayaBTeam:- Was trending on 26th March and was on 18th position (India)
#WhyILikeDMK:- Was trending on 30th March and was on 1st position (India)

A source close to the DMK’s IT operations says the relentless tweets and posts emerge from an unofficial groups of bloggers who’ve been well-trained.  “We don’t have an official IT wing, and that I feel is a strength in itself. We simply laid out the brief for the 1000 or so bloggers across Tamil Nadu to tweet and post pro-DMK and anti AIADMK posts,” the source said. The formula it seems, is 2 pro DMK posts for every anti-AIADMK post. “This is completely on their volition, they are not paid anything. But these are bloggers who were already tweeting with a DMK bent, so this is no propaganda machine,” the source clarified.

The New Indian Express has reported that a Mumbai-based brand consultancy firm reportedly reached out to 100 bloggers to post political content. A mail by the company detailed the process: every morning, it will provide the content which the blogger has to post on their blog, without making any changes, and share on the social media space. The wages would be paid weekly, with a blogger willing to do the job standing to earn Rs 2,100 a week, it added. This campaign was allegedly run by the DMK against the ruling government. When the firm was contacted, they maintained that the news was fake and that the agency was running no such campaign. 

DMK sources say it’s could be a smear campaign by the incumbent government themselves, and that they had no idea of a campaign like this. 

The AIADMK’s IT wing, didn’t have much to say on the DMK’s tactics. “We’d prefer to focus on simply promoting the AIADMK. Our priority is not on attacking other parties,” the source said, adding, "We create our own trends, independent of what others are doing. Sometimes we create trends to counter others. Like #Alagiri4CM.” 

Memes, tweets, blogposts – social media is throwing up endless possibilities for a host of creative, entertaining, vile and pointed attacks between political parties. Need to hint at a rift within the party? Try a hashtag. Need to debunk theories of a tacit alliance with a party? Do it like BJP attacked the AIADMK - tweet a cartoon. But will  any of this transfer into real votes?


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