There’s a story floating around the interweb which started life at Newsweek, claiming that the Harris-Biden campaign is using a sock puppet sweatshop troll farm in India to provide their twitter followers, making it seem that the Democrats are a lot more popular than they are. It’s a blatant attempt to build credibility for all the extra ballots in their favor which many Americans are convinced that they plan to surreptitiously inject at the last moment.
Sock puppet sweat shop troll farm
Newsweek went to press on Monday accusing Democrats of buying Twitter followers. Their reporters reached out to the techie types in India who performed the service. They had no reason not to spill their guts so they admitted everything. The troll farm they run is just business. They’ve been doing it for years. They don’t know who Joe Biden or Kamala Harris are in the first place, and don’t care either.
The article in Newsweek has been shared around everywhere because conservative Americans are furious that the alleged “troll farm” was used to “boost the social media account of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.” What they were trying to do was obviously manufacture interest in their social media accounts that doesn’t really exist. It’s all about fake credibility.
The first thing they revealed was that their investigation uncovered evidence that “Joe Biden’s Twitter account got a sizable boost beginning in August from tens of thousands of fake followers purchased on the open market from troll farms in rural India.” Places where they don’t even speak English.
As soon as Harris showed up
Biden’s campaign was clueless about how to manage Twitter until Kamala Harris, of partial Indian heritage, dropped in for a session in Joe’s garage. “Within two weeks of Biden selecting Kamala Harris as his running mate on August 12, his Twitter following jumped by 738,595 new followers—a 9.1 percent leap. The number hit 11 million by the third week of October.” They were all supplied by a troll farm in India. Newsweek found some interesting patterns.
The first thing that Newsweek noticed was that “a large number of Twitter accounts that followed Biden’s appear to have been created exclusively for that purpose.” Not only that, “a large number of the users are located in small towns in rural India.” Even more suspicious, these are “places where English-speakers are rare, and from handles run by people who don’t speak English as their first language, nor appear to be genuinely invested in American politics.” In other words, a troll farm.
Once they figured that out, they tracked down the vendors, Harshit Patel and Yajpal Yadav. They don’t look like your ordinary troll and they enjoy their work. “This was started as an internet café by my father in the late 1990s,” Patel declared. “Back then, men came in mostly for chatting in IRC rooms and surfing porn. It was brisk business. But then internet became so cheap and everyone got smartphones and business petered out.” They got into politics “in 2012–13 when [Narendra] Modi started his campaign for prime minister. And this became my main business.”
A Sock puppet troll or two
Each of their workers uses “several hundred” alias troll accounts. That’s where the “sock puppet” part comes in. For a fee, “they schedule tweets, check engagement stats and, at the close of their shifts, fill up a spreadsheet with their analytics from the previous day.” As the work came in, they soon diversified. “My wife got herself trained in Photoshop and now we offer not only these [trolling and propaganda] services, but also content creation.” In English, “content creation” means “making memes.”
The men enjoy running their troll farm. “Political parties are our main clients, but even brands and celebrities who need promotion come our way,” Yajpal said. “This is a business like any other.” He was sure to note that they don’t play favorites. “We don’t pick and choose. Joe Biden the person is irrelevant to us. We got a target in August to follow him and engage with his tweets, and we did. The agencies in Delhi who we work with don’t tell us any details, and we don’t ask.”