As the political parties prepare towards the 2024 general elections, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has demonstrated its fear of Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia leading the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the presidential race.
This is after another grand move by the NDC to smear Dr Bawumia using social media was exposed.
It has been established that the NDC is the architect of a coordinated sharing of #Bawuliar tweets by 28 accounts using the copy-paste technique.
An investigative report by Joy FM revealed that the strategy was meant to dent the credibility of Dr Bawumia with the view to scoring political points.
The report, meant to combat disinformation, was created with mentorship from the African Academy for Open-Source Investigations (AAOSI). Through the investigations, it was found out that the NDC loyalists attempted to “exaggerate and entrench the ‘liar’ narrative.
Per the report, Sammy Gyamfi, the National Communications Officer of the NDC, aparty activist, Perry Annan and one MP Kwarteng were the architects of the disinformation.
“We identified Twitter user @sammygyamfi2017 as the second most influential account in respect of the #Bawuliar trend. @sammygyamfi2017 per our checks, used to be the username of the Twitter account of the National Democratic Congress’ Sammy Gyamfi,” the report stated.
It added: “Currently, the account’s username is @SammyGyamfi. This is supported by the archived tweets on Wayback Machine, from when the account’s username used to be @sammygyamfi2017.”
Sammy Gyamfi tops
@SammyGyamfi_, according to the report, led the plot with the three top #Bawuliar tweets. The most popular #Bawuliar tweet was @SammyGyamfi’s reaction to Dr Bawumia’s claim that Ghanaians could use the Ghana Card as a travel document in lieu of a passport.
The February 12, 2022 tweet described Dr Bawumia as allergic to the truth with lies being embedded in his DNA. This tweet garnered 171 retweets and 727 likes.
According to the report, @Annanperry, who describes himself as a youth activist of the NDC, persistently amplifies the pro-NDC narratives. This development was clear in the account’s most used hashtags, as shown in its last 2,192 tweets. “The hashtags include #NDCDecides, #NDCPrimaries, #GalamseyGovernment.
“Screengrabs of @Annanperry’s most used hashtags and the Twitter accounts that were involved in pushing the #Bawuliar narrative are heavily connected to each other,” the report noted.
The report further indicated that @SammyGyamfi_ retweeted @Annanperry’s tweets 29 times, and @AnnanPerry also mentioned @SammyGyamfi_ in his tweets 20 times.
“@Annanperry retweeted @MPKwarteng’s tweets 59 times, retweeted @royal1kingly’s tweets 54 times and @Dejoh36’s tweets 53 times. “Thus, @Annanperry is also strongly associated with @MPKwarteng, @royalkingly and @Dejoh36, all of which are part of the top 5 influential accounts that drove the #Bawuliar narrative on Twitter. The copy-pasting technique was used to drive #Bawuliar,” it stated.
Apart from being the most influential account that drove the #Bawuliar, @Annanperry was also at the centre of the coordinated campaign involving 28 Twitter accounts that copy-pasted #Bawuliar tweets. @Annanperry would usually be the first person to send out the tweet, after which, various Twitter accounts would tweet the same content, word for word, with #Bawuliar.
On why the political decisions behind the campaign, the report said, “Although there are organic public sentiments that Dr Bawumia has broken many promises he made to voters as reflected in mainstream media, the NDC has taken advantage of these sentiments and branded the Vice President as a liar for political gains.”
Proceeding, the report added: “Whilst the Vice President may indeed be facing a credibility deficit, #Bawuliar is an inorganic trend that exaggerates the existence of narrative.”
As the nation moves to the 2024 general election, the report signalled the likelihood of such accounts belonging to party loyalists being used together with sock puppet accounts to aggressively battle for control of the narrative on social media.
Going into General Elections
Making reference to Joseph Goebbels’ quote: “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth,” the report said with the Vice President having formally announced his intention to run for president, the hashtag Bawuliar popped up in Ghana’s Twitter trends.
“It was not the first time #Bawuliar had trended. As of March 2023, over 1,110 Twitter users had used #Bawuliar and created 24 million impressions and reached over 5.69 million people,” the report revealed.
The report disclosed that the hashtag amplified on April 8, April 28 and later on May 2 after Dr. Bawumia declared his intention to run for president in a meeting with the Majority caucus in Parliament.
“We identified a cell of 28 Twitter accounts that amplified the #Bawuliar campaign on Twitter using the copy-paste technique, a coordinated campaign that was intended to discredit Ghana’s Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia by highlighting various contradictions and inconsistencies in his pronouncements, and digging up his failed promises. “The campaign ultimately sought to brand Dr Bawumia as a liar,” the report noted.
Further going into details, the report said t ‘Bawuliar’ was first mentioned by a Twitter account with the username @NotJustPascal on June 18, 2016.
“However, the hashtag was used for the first time on September 7, 2016, in @ishmaelseidu1’s reply to Gabby Otchere-Darko’s tweet about whether the government was trying to muzzle Dr Bawumia, who was by then, running mate to the New Patriotic Party’s presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo. “During the investigation, we observed that almost every comment the Vice President made about the economy was met with a spike in #Bawuliar tweets. “This investigation looks into whether the trend of #Bawuliar is organic or an attempt orchestrated by political opponents to cast a slur on the credibility of Dr Mahamudu Bawumia,” the report stated.