‘Free Netflix,’ chats with women used as lure in campaign for bill in India – reports

Victor Barreiro Jr.
‘Free Netflix,’ chats with women used as lure in campaign for bill in India – reports
Twitter users notice a growing number of what appear to be fake Indian accounts telling people to call a number supporting the Citizenship Amendment Act in exchange for free Netflix accounts or chats with lonely women

MANILA, Philippines – India’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) used “free Netflix” and chats with women to lure people to call a number that would indicate support for the country’s controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) of 2019, according to reports.

The alleged disinformation campaign appeared to have begun harmlessly with a call for support on Twitter and the said number. Below is the tweet, as posted by the party’s president, Amit Shah: 

 

The CAA, an amendment to India’s Citizenship Act of 1955, would allow Indian citizenship for Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian minorities fleeing Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan before December 2014. 

It has sown controversy as outrage has grown over the CAA as it has been seen as anti-Muslim. The amendment excludes Muslims and a number of other persecuted communities, such as Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar or Buddhist refugees from Tibet.

Twitter users have noticed a growing number of what appear to be fake accounts telling people to call the number in exchange for free Netflix accounts.

This brought Netflix India out to call out the claims of free Netflix accounts being passed around:

 

Aside from this tactic, a Huffington Post report noted India Twitter users spotting fake accounts claiming to be lonely women wanting to chat, but who gave the same number provided by the BJP.

The Next Web, in its report, pointed out the method by which this could have happened – a shared document file with templated text can be manipulated or used to get the connected accounts to tweet for your cause.

In February 2019, Pratik Sinha of fact-checking website Altnews showed how that would work:

 

The method by which this campaign works shows the ease with which a coordinated disinformation attempt, moreso any social media campaign, can work without the need for expensive and time-consuming things like artificial intelligence software or digital media manipulation.

According to the Times of India, the BJP asserted opposition parties were to blame for the confusion regarding the phone number. Rappler.com

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Victor Barreiro Jr.

Victor Barreiro Jr is part of Rappler's Central Desk. An avid patron of role-playing games and science fiction and fantasy shows, he also yearns to do good in the world, and hopes his work with Rappler helps to increase the good that's out there.