At 3:48 PM on Thursday, a Whatsapp forward from Vinit Goenka, the former co-convenor of Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) IT Cell urged its recipients to make #HinduDeniedEquality the top Twitter trend. Before 5 PM, the said hashtag had become the second leading trend on Twitter India.
The most popular posts that were tweeted under the provocatively titled hashtag took a dig at Muslims and other minorities. Trashing secularism seemed to have been the binding thread bringing users tweeting under the hashtag together.
There were several users who tweeted out older images with deceptively titled captions. For instance, the image tweeted out below was taken at the Shunting Yard of New Delhi Railway Station on Ramzan Eid on June 26. The caption, however, accused the praying Muslims of blocking the train tracks.
Further, it was found that the same hashtag had been used on several previous occasions. In fact, BJP’s Vineet Goenka was found to be using the same hashtag whenever sending out a tweet.
Goenka had last month created an uproar after demanding from Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel that two Muslims who were offering namaz near the luggage counter be removed. The BJP leader went on to sit on a dharna there and then to press that his demand be fulfilled.
When quizzed by National Herald on its policy of allowing religiously provocative content to trend, Deborah NG from Twitter’s Asia Pacific Communications’ Team pointed towards the Twitter rules that say that offensive content of political significance could be highlighted by the social media site.
The rules state that trends were determined by algorithm and were tailored for users “based on who you follow, your interests, and your location.”
“This algorithm identifies topics that are popular now, rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis, to help you discover the hottest emerging topics of discussion on Twitter,” the rules state.
However, in the past, the BJP IT Cell has been accused of hiring “influencers” hired by public relations firms to create trends.
Dhruv Rathee, an Indian based out of an undisclosed overseas location and having a Youtube channel with more than 89,000 followers pointed out in a video last year that all engineered trends come with trending hashtags and at specific set times.