US based TIME Magazine declared Aam Aadmi Party head Arvind Kejriwal the winner of its global poll to take reader inputs on the top 100 people who influenced the world the most past year.
It rejected over 93% of Modi’s votes and over 88% of Kejriwal’s votes as fakes, before declaring the Aam Aadmi Party leader as the winner.
The question of fake voting, using Facebook profiles bought from the market by the millions, has been the subject of a heated discussion on social media for the last two days.
According to TIME’s final tally, both Kejriwal and Modi were the recipients of millions of fake votes.
Only 6.52% of the 2.52 mln votes cast in favor of Modi made the cut after TIME magazine decided to use analytical tools to weed out fake votes. The remaining 93.5% votes were considered to have been cast by artificial methods such as using ‘bots’ or by using Facebook like wholesalers.
Similarly, of the 2.27 mln ‘yes’ votes cast on Kejriwal, only 11.53% of the votes were considered genuine by the authenticity tools used by online analytics firm Poptip.com.
As a result, Modi was considered to have got only 1.65 lakh votes for being included in the TIME 100 Most Influential list for 2014, while Kejriwal was considered to have got 2.61 lakh votes. Last year, Modi had polled over 5 lakh votes.
India is reported to be home to many ‘Facebook Farms’ where people come to work to ‘like’ and comment on various pages and posts to promote the clients of these so-called ‘social media consultants’. However, online voting can also be rigged by hacking into the system as well.
TIME did not specify the criteria or tools used to detect fake votes, but only said that “there were attempts to inflate the voting numbers, but only legitimate votes were tabulated for the final results.”
Despite the massive haircut forced on both, the two Indian politicians were the top voted people in the entire global list.
The decision to eliminate nearly 90% of the votes for being fake has caused much consternation, especially in the Modi camp as Modi was more severely affected by the move than Kejriwal.
In fact, without the elimination, Modi would have won the poll with 2.5 mln yes votes.
Vote rigging was widely expected as videos had started circulating showing millions of votes getting added in a matter of hours. India has a total of about 50 mln social media users, most of whom have not heard of the poll and are unlikely to have voted.
“Too small a sample: possible conclusion Anti-Modi sentiment stronger outside India,” said Arivan Govindan in a tweet on the subject.
It was a “desperate intervention by @TIME on behalf of Ford Foundation,” said KarmBharat, a twitter user, reflecting the anger in the Modi camp.
Kejriwal had an edge over Modi in the first three days of polling, but Modi stormed the voting system on Monday, when he went from about 20,000 yes votes to about 5 lakhs in a few hours. That was followed by a massive influx of yes votes in favor of Kejriwal.
This was followed by both camps writing to TIME Magazine to express their consternation at the turn of events.
“Lotsa angry mail from Modi, Kejriwal backers accusing other of rigging TIME poll. Imagine fervor over actual polls,” remarked one of TIME’s editors Reno Ong, in reaction to the flood of complaints.
There was even a Change.Org petition, complete with a screencast video to prove rigging, launched by Kejriwal fans.
The two politicians are locked in a real poll battle in Varanasi in India, and that added to the fervor of the online battle.