Pakistan’s state-sponsored troller revealed
Pakistan’s notorious digital commander, Farhan Virk, who used social media platform Twitter with hashtags to propagate Islamabad’s agenda, particularly against India was revealed.
During the time of escalated tensions between India-Pakistan, Virk’s Twitter campaigns aimed at discrediting India’s accusation on Pakistan. He commands a Twitter army of more than 1,000 volunteers dedicated to spreading hyper-nationalist propaganda.
He claims that he can make any hashtag trend nationally. Virk commands over Twitter handle ‘Team Imran Khan’. When India-Pakistan tensions flare, Virk mounts an online attack with his lies through Twitter hashtags.
To trend a hashtag, Virk retweets the agenda with digitally altered images of politicians, journalists – or whoever is in his bad books. These so-called campaigns look like a barrage of doctored images, often accompanied by captions that are inaccurate, unverifiable, accusatory and at times defamatory.
Virk organises the assets (images and captions), shares them with members of Team Imran Khan over WhatsApp and prepares to launch the hashtag attack. Like a swarm of locusts, at a time of their choosing, they descend on Twitter and tweet the images and captions until the hashtag starts trending.
With roughly 300,000 followers spread over two separate Twitter accounts (in case one is suspended) and a team of more than 1,000 volunteers called Team Imran Khan, Virk has carved a unique space for himself on Pakistani Twitter.
To government ministers, he is an influencer they can mobilise against their rivals, or for any particular cause. To pretty much everyone else, he is a troll who is relentlessly polluting Twitter with nationalist hashtag campaigns.
Virk claims he has trended close to 4,500 hashtags with Team Imran Khan. “A lot of people call me a troll and I used to be a troll, I have no shame accepting that,” he said.