Since the dawn of the 21st century, technology has shaped our lives. Not only has it brought us closer but also has made it nearly impossible to imagine a life without it. But, is being over-dependent on technology misguiding us from the truth?

The Brexit, the 2016 US Presidential elections and your recent Flipkart order have one thing in common. That commonality is the practice of ‘Astroturfing’ or the deceptive practise of presenting an orchestrated marketing or public relations campaign in the guise of unsolicited comments from members of the public. Many corporate companies and political parties use fake comments or reactions to create a positive brand image (shout-out to BJP IT cell).

Be it politics, advertising or corporate campaigning, this practice is so common that we often ignore it altogether. Those earphones that you purchased from Amazon had some amazingly positive views but in reality, weren’t that good after all. Or that YouTube video for a mobile phone which proved that it was the best in its segment but in reality that wasn’t the case. According to Bing Liu, a data mining expert, as many as 1/3rd of all the reviews online are fake.

Even big companies like Oppo, Xiaomi, etc. are accused of practising astroturfing. Countries like Russia and China are the stalwarts of Astroturfing. They use fake comments and posts to support the ruling party’s propaganda, inside and outside their nation. Be it meddling with the US elections or Brexit, astroturfing played a major role.

Digital marketing companies use methods like fake IP addresses and Persona Management Software (PMS) to make fake accounts and use them for this purpose. The other method is using actual people to do so. And in this sphere, I have done this numerous times without even knowing the gravity of the same.

Just after my boards, I joined a digital marketing internship. My senior told me that I’d have to write comments on YouTube videos, post (fake) reviews on Google and stories on Instagram. Mind you that I only had to write ‘positive’ comments and reviews. Mostly the content of the comments was sent by them. The videos on YouTube included music videos of hugely popular pop stars also. Unknowingly I was doing something which is not only unethical but also illegal.

The greater problem is that nearly every student who would have done such an internship can tell you the numerous times he or she may have done an activity like this. The one time that you commented something rational on a Twitter post and then suddenly several users started trolling you without any rational argument, that is the work of such astroturfers. With a few computers and a handful of operatives, whole legions of supporters can be created out of the blue, and that too at a nominal cost. How widespread these practices are is anyone’s guess, but as the size and influence of online debate increases, the demand for such astroturf services will only increase, too.

Even if we leave aside the business part aside, the political sphere of astroturfing is even more disturbing. When suddenly a hashtag gets popular on Twitter out of thin air, regular users also take part in it. New forms of software enable any organisation with the funds and the know-how to conduct astroturfing on a far bigger scale than even the Kremlin could hope for. As reported by the Guardian, some big companies now use sophisticated “persona management software” to create armies of virtual astroturfers, complete with fake IP addresses, non-political interests and online histories. Authentic-looking profiles are generated automatically and developed for months or years before being brought into use for a political or corporate campaign. As the software improves, these astroturf armies will become increasingly difficult to spot, and the future of open debate online could become increasingly perilous.

The IPC articles 499 and 500, The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and IT Act article 66A prohibit this practice. But these laws are so seldom enforced that people have nearly forgotten them.


The end goal of astroturfing is always to create a fallacious opinion about a topic among people. So the next time you search for a product or a video, remember to be sane about astroturfing and not follow whatever looks to be popular.

Feature Image Credits: Andrii Yalanskyi

Aniket Singh Chauhan

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The world community is now at a stage where anti-globalisation sentiments are clearly visible among all sects of people. A major section of the United Kingdom voting in the favour of Brexit is evidence of the same. So is the result of the US presidential election that made Donald Trump, President Trump.

Donald Trump, in his campaign, appealed to the angst and resentment that certain parts of the population had towards the immigrants who got jobs in the United States, making them feel deprived of the opportunities apparently meant for them. He also allegedly synonymised terrorism with the Muslims, making them look like the reason for all terrorism-related problems. Having come to power, his xenophobic feelings got transfused with the state machinery which led to the introduction of laws like the Travel Ban.

Strangely, there has been an increase in the number of attacks on immigrants including people belonging to the Indian diaspora. An Indian-born engineer was shot dead in a Kansas bar on 30 March and witnesses said that the gunman shouted “Go back to your country” before opening fire. This is not the only incident or diaspora that’s under attack. The question that arises here is whether it’s just a coincidence or is there some correlation between these events?

When a person gets voted into a position of authority, his or her opinion gets a huge amount of legitimacy and following. Such persons get recognised as what various social theorists call ‘opinion leaders’. This has the propensity of fetching their narrative legitimacy, making it a hegemonic narrative. Once that happens, sects of people ascribing to that narrative assume a sense of authority and end up imposing their views on others, sometimes violently. This phenomenon is not just prevalent in the United States. It can be seen in our country as well. Yogi Adityanath becoming the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and shutting down meat shops is one such example. All such incidences give rise to a very important question – is it not necessary for people assuming such offices to be careful of the messages they transmit, directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally?

Image Credits: Politusic

Aditya Narang

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Over the entire course of the evolution of humanity, patriotism has been the tantalisingly sensitive concept which has held together the very fabrics of co-existence. At the same time, even its slightest manipulation for the parsimonious politics has created the greatest of unrests in the world order, making the phenomenon detrimental at both cause and effect ends; something which the world realized in 1914 and again in 1939. But certain lessons are never learnt.

Today, as the world bears witness to the gradual shift from the conventional to an era of neo-realist politics sugarcoated in the theories of post truth and alternative facts, it is intentionally made to overlook a global conspiracy of implied xenophobia. The election victories are shaped on hate speeches on any line which demarcates a set of majority from a minority, or at least appeases the former.

A section of people in India and Pakistan believe that a war will solve all their problems. Donald Trump’s America believes that creating a wall at the Mexican Border will end all their misery. Many British believe that Brexit will once again make them the rulers of the world, and a section of Australia and many other European nations believe that the immigrants are better left to perish due to cold and starvation. Remarkably, according to their local leaders, they all are the true patriots.

Howard Zinn in ‘The Zinn Reader: Writings on Disobedience and Democracy’ writes that, “If patriotism were defined, not as blind obedience to government, not as submissive worship to flags and anthems, but rather as love of one’s country, one’s fellow citizens (all over the world), as loyalty to the principles of justice and democracy, then patriotism would require us to disobey our government, when it violated those principles.”

It had never been as important as today to rise above this politics of segregation, and identify oneself beyond the selfish lines of race, religion and nationality, because at the end of the day, as Zinn writes, it all boomerangs.

With inputs from: The Zinn Reader – Writings on Disobedience and Democracy, Howard Zinn, Seven Stories Press, 1997

Nikhil Kumar

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The day after Donald J Trump’s inauguration saw millions of men and women not only in the United States, but around the world, protest against his power by staging the Women’s March. Organised several weeks in advance, its initial intent was to be a street protest in Washington DC. However, the outrage over Trump coming to power led to the mass organisation of such events in most major cities around the US, as well as solidarity marches in other parts of the world, from Jordan to Antarctica.

For anyone with access to any form of media in the past year, Trump’s election has been a highlight. His unabashed insults directed at anyone who was not a cisgender white male have left most of the world reeling. When the popular vote was very clearly in Hillary Clinton’s favour, but Trump still managed to come into office, such disdain by the population was to be expected. The masses descended onto the streets for a range of demands, such as reproductive rights, access to healthcare, and immigration reforms. Nevertheless, the marches around the world, which were filled with ordinary citizens as well as a range of celebrities, were critiqued on the basis of their futility.

The Women’s March at Washington DC
The Women’s March at Washington DC

No popular movement is free from criticism, especially from cynics who accept power relations as a given. This becomes a point of concern when democracy, a basic structure of society, is undermined by this cynicism. Protests have become legitimate sources of change throughout centuries of civilisation, in the same way that people’s awareness about their social and political culture has changed in recent years. Basic rights such as the right to vote or national sovereignty were only achieved through dissent. In a global society where right-wing policies are on the rise with the manufactured consent of the masses, such shows of widespread dissent are not only a boon, but a necessity. These methods empower the disenfranchised and pave the way for a more inclusive and self-aware society.

As individuals, we often feel powerless when we are engaged in a conflict with the state. However, it is essential to remember that the state is influenced by us in many implicit ways. We may face backlash from those who believe that simply marching will do no good, but we can be sure that even someone as egotistical and self-righteous as Trump is unsettled by the masses at his doorstep. When we are proud to be the “nasty women” that Trump accuses us of being, we are, in effect, robbing him of the power to rule us. He will govern us and force us to bury our aborted foetuses, but he will not make us believe that this behaviour is acceptable.

Feature Image Credits: Metro UK

Vineeta Rana

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It is official. Donald Trump is the new occupant of the Oval Office.  But the recently uncovered ‘golden shower’ fiasco and the alleged election scandals against him need not be proved. The mere possibility of an anti-thesis to the Cold War times is equally disturbing, and dangerous.

We tell you how.  We also tell you how this couple is similar to the infamous Hitler-Stalin duo.

Soon after the American elections, The Guardian came out with a report citing that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had applied for a warrant to look into contact between four Trump campaigners and Russian officials. We later came to know of memos penned by a former British spy about Donald Trump’s Russian links. Taking lead from Trump’s preference for obscenities, Putin called those ordering the infamous dossier, the documents which investigated Trump’s Russian ties, as nothing less than prostitutes.

Some of these allegations might just be a hysteria against the Trumpism. But an undeniable product is the fact that Vladimir Putin has developed his interests in America’s internal affairs, with Donald Trump, the real-estate-mogul-and-not-a-politician president as his ally. He knows that the novice will trust him in spite of all odds, and together they would make Russia great again.

Mr. Putin, though cynical about everything western, has had a particular disdain for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  With Trump, he will strongly cut short the Western European alliance in the western Russian front.  He surely will love to lessen the European influence in the Russian periphery and the Arctic circles by flexing his muscles and trashing the Article 5 of Washington Treaty which says that war for any European nation means a war for America. With America checked and EU neutralized, he shall plan doing to many more parts of the world what he recently did to Aleppo.


Tom Tugendham opines in a leading English daily that as Donald Trump shall remain hypnotized by the allurements of economic possibilities, Putin shall slowly make his way into the American system. Dismantling the Paris climate deal and hence revoking the $500 billion Exxon oil and gas drilling sanction in the arctic region will be among his premier agendas.

One thing for sure, Putin shall never care for American greatness. He cannot be America’s or for that reason any other nation’s ally. With Trump already been compromised, as reports say, Putin may use cyber attacks, energy and economic pressure, psychological warfare, targeted use of bribery, disinformation, military intimidation and espionage at all diplomatic levels. With the premier infiltrated, the rest does not seem impossible.

For the global environmental, economic and security concerns, let us hope that these two don’t walk down the aisles.


Feature Image Credits- NYbooks

Nikhil Kumar

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Fascism: a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual, and that stands for a centralised autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.


In the process of looking up the above definition on Merriam-Webster’s website, I’ve made my contribution towards making fascism Webster’s ‘Word of the Year.’ The word that has been looked up the maximum number of times on the website receives that prestigious position of word of the year. While announcing the likelihood that fascism may become its word of the year, Merriam-Webster took to Twitter to send out an entreaty-“there’s still time to look something else up.”

In related news, Oxford Dictionary has declared ‘post-truth’(relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief) its word of the year, while dictionary.com has gone with xenophobia (dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries). The pattern is hard to miss.

Why this fuss about a ‘word of the year,’ you ask? They tend to reflect the socio-political situation we are currently faced with, though to a largely limited extent. A single word fails to capture the plurality of experiences across the world, but does serve as a mirror image of the ideas that are bandied about in conversations or in the media, virtual or otherwise.

While 2016 cannot be described in a word, our concern lies primarily with the circumstances that have led several thousand across the world to take to the internet and find out what ‘fascism’ or ‘xenophobia’ might mean. Acknowledging such words as ‘words of the year’ would involve accepting the unfortunate idea that such circumstances predominate in the minds of a large number of people, and this can be a scary prospect when it comes to terms like fascism. The world definitely hasn’t forgotten what happened the last time fascism gained ground as an ideology.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations human rights Chief, claims that, “The rhetoric of fascism is no longer confined to a secret underworld of fascists meeting in illicit clubs. It is becoming part of normal daily discourse. In some parts of the USA and Europe, anti-foreigner rhetoric full of unbridled vitriol and hatred, is proliferating to a frightening degree.” This rhetoric is evident in Donald Trump’s plan to build an “impenetrable, tall, physical, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall” between the USA and Mexico, and in his suggestion of a ‘register’ for Muslims.

Though Trump occupies pride of place in the media, he isn’t the only one sounding the death knell for liberalism. European politicians like Germany’s Frauke Petry and Sweden’s Jimmie Akesson have been consistently opposed to ‘open-door’ refugee policies. An 89-year old survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp recently took to the internet to appeal to people not to vote for a far-right Austrian politician, Norbert Hofer, as their President. She draws similarities between Hofer’s politics and fascism of the pre-second world war period. There have been allegations that India is also currently experiencing fascist undercurrents.

Though Trump has the backing of the people of a democratic nation, having been elected President in a valid election, similarities have also been drawn between Trump’s politics and that of Hitler’s. These similarities, seen not just in Trump but also in several politicians across the world, can be quite appalling.

Maybe looking up other words will help avoid the negativity associated with fascism and xenophobia? But doesn’t the “fear of a name increase fear of the thing itself?”

Maybe we should all look up tolerance instead. Our collective amnesia seems to prevent us from recalling what it means.

 Image credits: Uproxx

Abhinaya Harigovind
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The US elections have been a rollercoaster ride for the citizens, officials of governments and people around the world. World leaders have been quick to congratulate him on his historic win. Sparks of outrage, tension and nervousness led to hopes of better bilateral relations between the US and other countries. We can say that America, at this point, has an unpredictable future ahead. Below compiled are different countries’ reactions to Trump’s win.


Trump had highlighted how he loved India and Hindus during his campaign. This might spell positive for India’s relations with the US but not so much for the H1b visa holders, for whom, reality has become a nightmare. If the President-elect decides to go ahead with the immigration policies, Indians working in the US are in big trouble.


Pakistan’s reaction seems to be circling around the ‘unpredictability’ the shock-win brings. While they definitely not apologizing for being accused of sheltering Osama, they certainly seem worried that Trump’s prejudice might further the cause of the failing Jihadist movement. Pakistan already beset with fighting terrorism on its borders might have to deal with a lot more. While some officials are anxious about the hardline approach, they are hoping in favour of America’s legacy of policy commitments and engagements.


President Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico was heavily criticized for receiving Trump during his campaign after the he had called Mexicans ‘rapists’ and vowed to build a wall between the two countries. Although after being elected, he was quoted saying it would be ‘more of a fence than a wall’. President Nieto expressed desire to continue and tighten bonds of bilateral relations between the two countries. Mexico’s economy is highly dependent on exports to the US.


Reacting to Trump’s landmark victory Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister congratulated him and stressed the importance of close ties between the two countries. He said Canada has no closer ally than the US and their friendship serves as a model to nations around the world. This came in the wake of Trump calling Canada’s export deal with the US as the ‘’worst trade deal in history.’’ A little more than 60 per cent of Canada’s global trade is accounted for by the US.

European Union

Donald Tusk, president of the European council and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European commission congratulated him and urged Trump to come to US-EU summit at his earliest convenience. At a recent meeting of the EU leaders, Juncker said that Trump’s victory poses ‘the risk of upsetting intercontinental relations in their foundation and structure’ and interestingly added that it would ‘take two years to explain how Europe worked to an ignorant Trump.’

United Kingdom

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May congratulated Donald Trump and said that Britain and the US have “an enduring and special relationship based on the values of freedom, democracy and enterprise”. She added that they will continue to maintain strong ties with the US to ensure the security and prosperity of the two nations. The head of the Number 10 policy unit at Downing street, a fierce critic of Trump described him as Trumpolini, after the Italian Fascist Mussolini. “It is clear that a genuine crisis of legimatacy is sweeping through the western political economy”, says Freeman.


The French President Francois Hollande congratulated Trump but with little enthusiasm. Hollande was a ardent supporter of Hillary and remarked that, “Certain positions taken by Donald Trump during the American campaign must be confronted with the values and interests we share with the United States”.


The German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Germany has close ties with the US and that the new President-elect will carry on the responsibility that comes with the seat of power. She goes on to say that Germany is willing to offer a close working relationship on the basis of the common values of democracy, freedom, respect for the law and human dignity irrespective of skin color, origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation and political conviction that both States share. It becomes clear that Germany is not going to entertain any of the hardheaded policies underlined in the Trump campaign.


President Xi Jinping called Trump to congratulate him on his victory and hoped to establish a working relationship while upholding the principles of ‘non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation’. He believes that ties with the US have benefitted the US more and was looking forward to working with the new administration.


As Trump’s votes began to rise on election day, the Australian shares started to go down with the dollar falling by 1.5 percent. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he Australia would work ‘as closely as ever’ with the US. He added by saying that, “the bond between our two nations, our shared common interests, our shared national interests are so strong, are so committed that we will continue to work with our friends in the United States”. Investors fear a ‘disastrous shock’ to the Australian economy if Trump’s economic policies go unchecked.

Here I have listed only a few countries but it can be safely said the world watches with bated breath, how the policies of the new American government unravel.

Image credits: Aljazeera, Christiansinpakistan, wallpapercave, noscommunicanos and samaatv.com

With inputs from The Guardian.

Arindam Goswami

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Donald J. Trump is going to be the United States of America’s 45th President. We’ll give you a moment to let that sink in.

Amidst all chaos and an unexpected turn of events, the former (really, former?) business tycoon managed to sail the Republican boat to the shore of victory. And while this was certainly the least expected beginning to 9th November for most Americans, they and the rest of the world are relying on their best bets as coping mechanisms on Twitter.

Here’s a peek into how the social media exploded in the last twelve hours celebrating anxiety and confusion.

Let’s begin on a light note- 


There are some we know are voicing our worst fears-


We, here at DU Beat, have had our share of apprehension as we believe no nation shall be left unaffected with this huge turn in power. Here’s a glimpse of what the team had to say-






How did you deal with the ground-breaking news today? Let us know in the comments section!

Featured Image Credits: the guardian.com

Arushi Pathak
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After the third and final presidential debate, mainstream web and print headlines covered how Senator Hillary Clintons debate is historic and epic, while Mr. Donald Trump apparently destroyed himself and insulted American democracy. Ever since Trump has been elected as the nominee of the Republican Party, the media has increased attacks against him, operating as Clintons mouthpiece. Their bias is clear, transparent and they are not even trying to deny it.

The Quinnipiac University poll found that 55 percent of voters felt that Mr Trump was right when he charged the media of this claim, which included 20 % Democrats. Bernie Sanders, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio too had all accused the media of biased coverage during party nominations.

These claims are not baseless, as revealed by the leaked DNC emails published by WikiLeakes. The mails revealed that Politico’s Kenneth Vogel sent an advanced copy of his story to DNC national press for “approval”. Journalism to the commoners was a weapon against the powerful but here, the battle cry that is being heard is against the media and by a powerful man, when did the tables flip?

According to Harvard’s Shorenstein, “From the time he started his candidacy until the start of the conventions, Trump has not experienced anywhere near the press criticism directed at him during the final two weeks of the convention period”. The coverage, the study notes was “two to one favourable”. Had the media finally awakened to the negatives of Trump’s presidency that they ignored before?

Journalist Glenn Greenwald told Slate that “the U.S. media is essentially 100 percent united, vehemently, against Trump, and preventing him from being elected president”. Journalists approach towards Trump’s presidency is not only countering their whole movement that they think will lead to his defeat but also distancing undecided voters from the voting. The media’s rosy eyed view of Clinton’s stance on certain issues like Syria and failure to press her on the issue of NSA surveillance amongst others will go against the average citizens who rely on mainstream media for information and America which we hope, does not end up electing the unfavourable to power.


Adarsh Yadav