Paid News Pass’e. It’s Now Paid Views

“Here is an opportunity for getting paid for your blog. All you need is to copy paste the content and get paid weekly. This is a political campaign we are running where we provide facts and figures that features the existing government in Tamil Nadu.”

With the election campaign increasingly moving online to match the age of technology where a quarter of the electorate is under 30, can the dirty tricks experts be far behind? A Mumbai-based brand consultancy firm has entered the murky waters ahead of the Assembly poll in Tamil Nadu in search of digital daily-wagers who can take on the incumbent government by ‘playing around with facts and figures’.

On Wednesday, a group of about 100 bloggers, who are part of a Chennai-based online blogging community, received a group mail from Brand Monachis, a Mumbaibased company that has worked with national and regional political parties, with the subject, ‘Get paid for your blog’. The deal was rather simple: every morning, it will provide the content which the blogger has to post on their blog, without making any changes, and share on the social media space. “You just have to copy and paste the content we send you. In return, we will pay you about Rs 300 per day at the rate of Rs 100 per article that we provide along with data against the existing State government,” a representative of the firm said on phone after responding to the initial mail. The wages will be paid weekly, with a blogger willing to do the job standing to earn Rs 2,100 a week, it added.

The campaign was run for the DMK against the incumbent government, the person added, though The Sunday Standard could not independently verify the identity of the client.

The person at the other end of the line gave two contact numbers if interested in taking up the job — it included one that is the number for the Mumbai firm as given in its official webpage. When called the number feigning interest, the offer became sweeter: bring in 10 more who would be willing to do this and become a coordinator for the group. In return, this reporter was offered double the money for each post — Rs 200 per post.
Such efforts to enlist bloggers are not unusual. Firms spend money to build presence and promote brands online through bloggers who have a substantial number of captive audience and are able to mould opinion through informal channels. But doing it for political parties is unusual, at least in Tamil Nadu. The bloggers in TN, who received the invite, said popular ones among them were earlier approached by another party strongly associated with an influential community in northern TN for a similar campaign where they would give the content to be posted on their blog space.

“Bloggers would prefer to express their own opinions instead of being forced to reproduce the content generated by some PR agency for promoting a particular political party. We can’t do injustice to our readers,” N Katie, a noted blogger from Chennai, said.

“I can immediately relate this as a digital equivalent of paying voters to vote. Such initiatives will backfire since it affects the credibility of bloggers,” said Kiruba Shankar, a social media entrepreneur. Attempts to reach the leaders of DMK, for whom the campaign is allegedly being run, failed.

Election Commission to Form Panel to Probe Bloggers Issue

Chennai: After the incident of how a brand consultant firm based out of Mumbai, allegedly contracted by a leading party in Tamil Nadu, is on the hunt for bloggers to surreptitiously campaign against the ruling party, the Chief Election Commissioner said the commission would form a panel to inquire into the episode and take action.

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