In defense of Ola Electric, a network of dodgy social media accounts


Mint has documented more than 50 such handles, which attacked Balwant Singh, a government employee in Guwahati. Singh had tweeted about the serious injuries sustained by his son, Reetam, a lawyer at the Gauhati High Court, in a March 26 crash involving the electric two-wheeler maker’s flagship Ola S1 Pro. Singh had complained that the scooter was accelerating when it was supposed to brake, sending his son flying.

The tweet sparked a conversation about Ola Electric scooter safety, with others sharing their own nasty experiences. As Singh’s tweet gained attention and made its way into the media, the network of accounts got to work.

“I’m just letting you know since you don’t know, this is what a plane crash looks like, not a scratch on a panel,” user @princi_qween tweeted, using a traffic accident image.

“Regen (energetic braking) exists for better battery efficiency. How did it cause an accident? Looks like something that was done for attention and money. If it is hurt this bad, you should take care of him rather than demanding things on Twitter,” read another tweet from @ImAnkitss.

Two handles claimed Singh’s Twitter account went live after eight years to extort money from Ola. At least six other people tweeted identical footage of a bloody road accident, saying if Reetam’s account was true the damage would have been worse.

Accusations of extortion, criminal acts by rival brands, telling “fantasy” stories and blaming the victim for speeding are common threads running through many of these tweets. A casual account with identical characteristics also pretends to be a customer, providing a positive view. the company.

Some of them find themselves tweeting identical hashtags on various topics, indicating their association with multiple agencies mandated to create a positive narrative by brands. While there is a range in terms of activity for these accounts on Twitter, most appeared in 2021 or later, and some as recently as March or April of this year. In many cases, different accounts post an identical tweet, or a slight variation of the same tweet, using similar images and addressing a similar theme.

Reetam Singh, who is recovering from his injuries, has accused Ola Electric of using troll accounts.

“Many other Ola customers left comments on my dad’s tweet about my accident that they were facing similar issues to ours, and troll accounts have also sued them. When I started to see a pattern in what was being said to troll us, I was stunned to find that the company was employing either bots or a social media agency to discredit my story. I realized these weren’t genuine clients or handles, and were amplifying tweets from a common marketing agency. There were 50 to 60 handfuls like that,” Singh said over the phone.

Certainly, there is no direct evidence as to whether Ola Electric was aware of or responsible for this activity. The company did not respond to a request for its version of events. On April 22, however, he blamed the overspeeding on the accident, citing driving data from the scooter, and claimed the vehicle was faultless.

Mint also discovered that around 100 Twitter accounts, including some of the 50 accounts mentioned above, operate to like, retweet and applaud positive tweets about Ola Electric’s self-driving experience, founder Bhavish’s disruptive vision. Aggarwal for Make in India, on the world. largest two-wheeler factory it has built and its all-female workforce.

Other names that these accounts have been actively retweeting recently include Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd (HPCL), Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL), Disney+ Hotstar, RealMe, Naveen Jindal, as well as the political accounts of Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Ajay Bhatt, Manoj Yadav. , and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi party, as well as Twitter trends like #Corbevax and #Singham, all of which indicate links between the accounts via messaging groups, or coordination by the same social media or digital marketing agency.

“My whole concern is that instead of employing these tactics, they could have spent more time and resources designing their product better. They are trying to ostracize me for posting my story,” Reetam added.

Some others who criticized Ola Electric on Twitter also said they were being trolled. “I got spammed on my grip after posting negative product reviews,” complained Twitter user Omkar.

During an April 23 visit to Ola Electric’s Futurefactory near Bengaluru which manufactures its scooters, CEO Aggarwal told this reporter that the negative reviews of his scooter were mostly “noise” and that critics of the company were ‘paying crores to bring the brand down’ when asked to respond to customers complaining of overheating, a sudden drop in battery performance and a fault that led some scooters to fail switch to reverse mode.

“Companies have become very protective of their online reputation. And in the process of saving, they go far beyond the normal lay of the land. Previously, social media trolling was only the domain of the political class; but now brands have also started to learn from it and are creating echo chambers online,” said a prominent social media strategist, asking not to be named to avoid any impact on their business.

“Online reputation management companies have a large network of people who have multiple social media handles, a number of followers, and are familiar with the system. Often, many brands hire agencies that cater to the same group of people,” he added.

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