Devesh Kumar, the so-called tech specialist for the leftist propaganda website ‘The Wire’ who wrote two fake stories targeting the BJP, and who claims to be the torchbearer of ‘unbiased journalism,’ apparently operated a ‘parallel BJP IT cell’ against the Bharatiya Janata Party during the 2019 anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) rallies. This revelation comes from a post made by Devesh himself on Reddit.
In a post made on Reddit some 3 years ago, Devesh stated that he ran a ‘parallel IT cell’ against the BJP from his home and he deployed some 40 servers on Amazon Web Services (AWS) for the task. He wrote, “For the last three months, I have been running more than 40 servers on AWS to analyse social media, particularly Tweets from 2 lac+ bot accounts and run a campaign against the IT Cell of the current regime.” It was confirmed that this was his account by the virtue of his Twitter account having the same username.
“This has been a resource-intensive task, and as you can see in the screenshot attached, it has been expensive as well. But the report and results of the campaign are showing. It’s consistently defeating rigged Twitter Polls of the IT Cell and giving more energy/voice to the people protesting against this draconian law,” Devesh wrote referring to the Citizenship Amendment Act. “…What makes me happy is that government with so much power and money are not able to do a thing if men and women are willing to think. Let’s keep protesting. I am contributing with my technology skill till I can. #CAA_NRC_Protests” he concluded.
OpIndia reported about this story at the time of its publishing in 2019. Devesh had said that he had spent more than Rs 4 lakhs in just two months to alter Twitter polls using Twitter bots to suggest that people did not favour CAA and NRC. Essentially, Devesh Kumar had said that he was spending a large amount of money to run Twitter bots, monitor Twitter accounts, and manipulate ‘BJP’s Twitter bots’ to defeat BJP in online polls, and also to rig trending hashtags.
Numerous Reddit users responded to the post, offering their assistance in ‘fighting the BJP IT cell’ through the use of technology. Many of them claimed to be highly skilled in data science, programming, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, software development, and other sectors of information technology, and they offer to help with the so-called ‘project.’ Many of them even advised shifting the conversation to Slack or Telegram so that others couldn’t see it. Some users also offered assistance in lowering the AWS cost, and many proposed organising a fundraiser to cover the costs.
Posts by Devesh on Reddit reveal a lot about his reservations and ideological subscriptions. Devesh shared a cheatsheet on Reddit to respond to what he called ‘state propaganda on CAA/NRC.’ The respective file on the embedded Google Drive link has now been deleted.
Another post titled “Amit Shah must resign. This is not Chanakyaniti but Danga shastra” was shared by Devesh and was removed by Reddit India for it being of contentious nature.
Notably, Devesh was quite active on Reddit, as evident from the posts made by him on the platform.
Devesh Kumar had justified his use of Twitter bots to defeat BJP in online polls by saying that he is not living in an ideal scenario. “In an ideal scenario, a social network should not mean a thing, but we’re not living in an ideal scenario. Are we? So I decide to monitor and manipulate Twitter accounts of bots run by IT cell of BJP,” he had claimed.
Bizzare claims by The Wire’s ‘tech expert’
After writing the TekFog story on The Wire which claimed that BJP has developed this app with superpowers to manipulate major social media platforms, Devesh Kumar made some bizarre claims about his career in July of this year. He claimed in a series of tweets in a thread that his servers were being attacked, which he kept shifting to save his ‘archival data.’ He claimed that he moved his servers from AWS to Azure to Digital Ocean in the previous six months, and all those servers on the web platforms run by world’s top IT companies were hacked to target his servers. He had also claimed that he tried to run the serves from his home, but was hampered by electricity ad connectivity issues.
After that, he had a shocking claim, saying that he has been using government servers to run his anti-BJP propaganda. He claimed that after his attempts to host his servers in web platforms and home computers failed, he moved them to the IT infrastructure of NITs and IITs. “A couple of friends and colleagues helped me create a distributed network of servers across five different NITs and IITs through their alumni connections. Now, these servers do the archiving of over 2,30,000 Twitter accounts and a few thousand blogs,” he claimed.
If the claim is true, it means that a huge amount of IT resources in India’s premier technology institutes are being misused by Devesh Kumar to create fake stories against the BJP.
Finally, a couple of friends and colleagues helped me create a distributed network of servers across five different NITs and IITs through their alumni connections. Now, these servers do the archiving of over 2,30,000 Twitter accounts and a few thousand blogs.
— Devesh Kumar (@onosmosis) July 21, 2022
Devesh also claimed that he was being spied on and that he had to ‘format’ his gadgets two to three times a day to keep them safe. He added that he discovered that his microphone was operating in the background and that MacOS failed to identify this. To combat this, Devesh, funnily, formatted his devices instead of disabling or disconnecting the microphones. He said his mic on both on his computer and phone were being remotely used.
It is surprising to know that a ‘tech-expert’ like Devesh Kumar does not know that the microphone on a computer can be easily disabled. And if he is over-paranoid and does not believe in disabling it from device settings, he can physically remove the hardware. But no, instead he formats the PC ‘2-3 times a day’. While disabling the mic on a phone is not easy, a ‘tech-expert’ should be able to do it, or should be able to get it done. Actually, it will be easier to physically damage the mic by poking with a pin instead of formatting the phone 2-3 times a day, as he claims he was anyway using a separate phone for this work.
Apart from this, I have to format my computer and phone several times (sometimes 2-3 times a day) as apps like Micro Snitch (https://t.co/0K8MLsKf6P) show that my microphone is being used even when macOS doesn’t show any indicators.
— Devesh Kumar (@onosmosis) July 21, 2022
Devesh Kumar claimed his devices are infected moments are they are formatted. Such incredible hacking is not even shown in Hollywood movies that show that hacking devices remotely is ridiculously easy for hackers.
All these claims by the so-called tech expert, whose email and Twitter accounts have allegedly been hacked, reveal a lot about him.
It is notable that on October 15, the Meta vs Wire saga took another twist after The Wire published a “rebuttal” to Meta’s assertation that the alleged expose by the leftist portal was based on fabricated evidence. In its rebuttal, The Wire made several claims to justify its expose. However, most of their claims raised even more questions over the authenticity of the evidence presented by them. All the screenshots of emails they used have been proven to be fake as the concerned persons have clarified they never wrote those emails. The Wire had published a video showing a Workspace account, but Meta has said that it was a fake account created by Wire on the Workspace platform, and it was created 2 days after Wire published the story.
Apart from Meta and the independent experts cited by Wire saying that the proofs are fake, common netizens also found numerous loopholes in them, like misaligned buttons on screenshots, wrong dates and days in emails, wrong user DP and other discrepancies in the Workspace account, missing details in email DKIM verification etc. According to Wire editor Siddharth Varadarajan, all work related to tech in the story was done by Devesh only.
As the evidence debunking The Wire’s preposterous claims against Meta piled up, the leftist propaganda website on Tuesday decided to “suspend the stories” until it carried out a “thorough internal review of all material and documents and sources,” an implicit admission that they have erred in the reportage.