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To begin with, Vivek Arora (or Prismartec, Nand Dham Industrial Estate, Marol Maroshi Road, Andheri East, Mumbai) will hire a good photographer, with an equally good writer, to capture our Netaji in action. The video will be telecast live on YouTube. Says Arora: “…YouTube hai ye humara live play hona chahiye … Facebbok pe live relay hona chahiye … aisa ho matlab ki aaj hua hai raat ko hua hai (…it should play live on YouTube … it should relay live on Facebook … I mean it should look like to have happened tonight only).” But he won’t allow public to react and write bad comments about Netaji.

To make our campaign on social media untraceable, Arora would get a secured connection and all the IP addresses he would use would be disabled. Listen to him: “… aapke saare ke saare jo IP address hain wo sab disable ho jaate hain … kisi ko pata hi nahin lagega kahan se aa raha hai ye (… all your IP addresses will be disabled … nobody will come to know from where all this is coming).”

To ensure the IP addresses are not tracked and blocked, he would use instead an American IP address:  “… kyonki IP address block ho jaate hain … hum IP address divert kar sakte hain IP Sir US ka ho jayega (…because IP addresses get blocked … we can divert IP addresses … it will be a US IP Sir).”

He will fabricate all likes on Facebook for us and would hire college students.

Sending sms to voters two-three days before elections is not a problem for Arora: “… toh humko fir ek US ka angle lagana padega ki third party se sms aa raha hai waisa karna padega humko (… they will tell you to do it independently … so we will have to get a US angle and send the sms with the help of a third party).”

This is how he is going to beat our opponent, without us coming into picture ever, with the help of an offshore blogger: “Hum ek random blogger create kar denge wo bhi US se directly … aur Facebook pe Facebook pe aaj jitna yahan pe negative publicity karoon main agar doosre jo aap layenge humare saamne ki bhai ye thoda sa mudda uthayein jo negative usko aap uthayein … wo hum yahan pe uthayenge usko (We will create a random blogger that too directly from the US … and on Facebook … there is no limit to negative publicity on Facebook that I can do today … you have to bring before us a negative issue to raise it … we will raise is it here).”

The negative campaign will be run from the United States, with a team of four–five members of Indian origin there: “Wo toh wo toh hum US ka hi ayega wo toh direct US se kaam hoga … nahin nahin wo toh kaam hi US se hi hoga (That will come only from the US … that will be done directly from the US … no, no .. that job will be done from the US only).”

Asking us to wait to see all kinds of fireworks once the project gets going, he says he would hack the website of our political opponent a few days before elections: “Site hi down kar denge … site down ho jayegi (Site will be brought down … site will be brought down).”

Operation Blue Virus by Cobrapost details the kind of services offered by IT companies for a fee. Operation Blue Virus, an undercover investigation by Cobrapost, shows how IT companies across the country are engaged in a racket of reputation management, offering fake fan-following on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, and negative publicity to sully the reputation of a political leader, or a corporate house, for money. Among their clients are corporate houses, big or small, NGOs, scam-tainted senior government officials, individual politicians and political parties.

Posing as a front man for an imagined politician from an opposition party, Cobrapost Associate Editor Syed Masroor Hasan, approached over two dozen IT companies. The Request:

Netaji, his master, wants to launch a campaign on social media before coming assembly elections. But his opponent’s reputation has to be destroyed with negative publicity, simultaneously. This will help Netaji win not only assembly election with a handsome margin but also a Lok Sabha ticket in parliamentary elections due in 2014, and then a Cabinet berth. Budget is not a problem.

While it is hardly surprising that IT companies readily agreed to create fan followings, the shocker is that none of the companies refused to destroy the reputation of his supposed political opponent. Unsurprisingly, some offered to hire journalists or even detectives to throw muck at Netaji’s opponent. But utterly unbelievable are offerings of services like buying votes of the poor and spreading rumours or exploding a bomb to force a particular minority community stay indoors on polling day, so bogus votes could be cast. The asking price for these reputation management services ranged from a few lakhs to a couple of crores, to be paid in cash.

Many of these malpractices violate various laws, such as the Information Technology Act 2000, the Representation of the People Act 1951 and the Income Tax Act 1961, and are as such punishable under various sections of the Indian Penal Code.

Operation Blue Virus reveals that if the claims of the companies exposed are to be believed, among political parties, BJP is at the forefront in social media campaign, so is its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, with scores of companies working overtime for him. This puts a question mark on the claims of the BJP leadership that there is a wind blowing in favour of their party and Narendra Modi. The larger-than-life-image that Team Modi has assiduously carved out for Modi over the past one decade may not be that real, rather invented, and is reminiscent of the Goebbellian propaganda, to sway the opinion of gullible public. It is no surprise then that even a milder criticism of the BJP’s star campaigner invites scathing attacks from his followers on social media, claimed to be in millions in count.

However, more disturbing is the use of social media for fanning communal sentiments by vested interests. Social media has its share of blame for riots in Muzaffar Nagar or the exodus of Northeastern ‘Chinis’ from cities across India. What requires to be done in the wake of Operation Blue Virus is a thorough investigation into the functioning of the IT companies in question and bring them to justice and a revisit of country’s cyber laws to plug the loopholes, both in letter and in implementation,  without impinging on freedom of speech. Otherwise, it will be not too long before social media, ubiquitous, unbridled and untamed, becomes the bane of society with all its attendant ills.

IT Companies exposed in the sting:

Bipin Pathare, Om Consultancy Services, Andheri East, Mumbai

Ab ye dekho ismein na ismein kitne part hain ek hai part Adiba karke na … aap maloom hoga aapko ki itna Adiba ka hai 233 Adiba ka hai … toh aapko suppose iska voter dekhne ka hai kitna 112 mein toh aapko voters milenge … kitne voters hain … haan 1141 hain" Read More about illegal IT services Bipin Patare of Om Consultancy offered

Trikam Patel, Co-Founder, Triams, Bangalore

Uske liye kya hai na shaitan dimaag chahiye hota hai … wo thode aise hi gunda gardi log rehte hain na wo hi karte hain … ye jo iske liye detective agencies hain unko kaafi doston ko bhi jaanta hoon wahan pe unke … mere clients hain websites wagaireh maine banaye hue hain … unko main approach karke ek do bando ko laga doonga … toh dheere dheere se unka kya subject hai kahan pe jaate hain kahan pe aate hain … unke personal relations kuan hai kya hai … poore jo  bhi jaankari hum logon ko dete hain wo hum log database mein store karte hainRead more about illegal IT offerings by Trikam Patel of Triams

Abhishek Kumar, Virinchi Software, Patparganj, Delhi

"Inka jo Rahul Gandhi aur … Mittal inki ek purani friend thi … uska thoda kuch hai … usko inhone bana liya ki gangrape hua hai … usne shayad kuch case bhi kiya tha … wo hi toh hai neeche likha hua ye sab baatein jo hain" Read more Abhishek Kumar of Virinchi Software describing workings of slander

Vivek Arora, Prismartec,  Nand Dham Industrial Estate, Marol Maroshi Road, Andheri East, Mumbai

"Hum ek random blogger create kar denge wo bhi US se directly … aur Facebook pe Facebook pe aaj jitna yahan pe negative publicity karoon main agar doosre jo aap layenge humare saamne ki bhai ye thoda sa mudda uthayein jo negative usko aap uthayein … wo hum yahan pe uthayenge usko" Read more from Vivek Arora's idea of IT services

Vishal Saini;  Harmeet Singh, Webstreaks, Derawal Nagar, New Delhi

"Negative chahiye uske andar … agar wo Congress hai toh BJP ki nikali jayegi .... Viral marketing ke liye ek bilkul fake ID … laptop assembled" Read more on how to trash competitors

Sanjeev Singh; Ravi Agarwal, Webolaxy, Malviya Nagar, New Delhi

"Wo Sir itni profile bana denge itni profile bana denge Internet pe itni profile … kum se kum … log honge chaar hazar Facebook pe negativity daalenge" Read more on how perceptions of widespread negative image are invented

Agam Panwar and Rakesh, Blue Sapphire Creations, Lajpat Nagar, Delhi

… humne kai logon ke ORM kiye hain  … jaise humare Google pe kisi ka galat naam aa gaya ki bhai ismein ye corruption hai funs gaya kaam … ye iss officer ne chori kiye hain … usko saaf karne ka kaam jo hai wo humne kiya … usko saaf karne ka kaam jo hai wo humne kiya hai …" more on how to clean scam stains

Priyadarshan Pathak, Websol Media, Railway Road, Gurgaon

Rohit Mahajan, Director; Mohit Mahajan, Director; Shwetank Pathak (Sales Head); Vikas Chopra (Sr. Team Leader), Cloudmay India, Sector 16, Noida, Uttar PradeshR.N. Sangwan, Managing Director; Amit, Alliance Softech, Dwarka, New Delhi

Fuad Mandlik, Director, Live Pages Infotech, Goregaon, Mumbai

Neeraj Kumar, Valuebound Interactive Solutions, Koramangala, Bangalore

Smeeta Thakare, Creative Head; Vipin Patil, Business Head, Integerz e-Business Solutions, Borivali, Mumbai

Tusar Kumar, Business Development Manager; Pratik Chaudhry, Creative Head; Richie Chauhan, Executive Vice President, Tekege Solutions/Ergo Agency, Shapur Jat, New Delhi

Prashanth Maxim Sequeira, CEO and MD, Arokia IT Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore, Karnataka

Prateek Patel, Director, Unlock Technologies, Mahiveer Nagar, Kandivali West, Mumbai

Atul Tibrewala, Managing Director, E-Vision Technologies, Main Avenue, Santacruz-West, Mumbai

Pradeep Gupta, PageUp Media Technologies, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh

Deepak Malik, Business Consultanant; Pawan, Chief Technical officer, NS Technologies, Sector 10, Noida, Uttar Pradesh

Mahendra Bedekar, Creative Head; Amrut Patki, Senior Visualizer; Suraj Naik, Manager (Human Resources–Admin); Neeraj, Business Development Head, Tridat Technologies Pvt. Ltd.,  Byculla, Mumbai

Neeraj Sinha, Torus Infotech, Azadpur, Delhi

Abdul Vasi, Director, HostCats, RT Nagar, Bangalore