Belgian politicians and football players have been spammed on Twitter over the past week by followers of an incarcerated Indian cult leader who claims to be the incarnation of a 15th-century mystic.
The recipients of the Tweets include accounts from the football world like Club Brugge and the Red Devils, as well as various Flemish politicians and even Dutch-language news outlets like VRT NWS and Humo.
The Flemish minister of Education Ben Weyts told VRT that he had to block the most active spammers on his account in order to keep things from getting “out of hand.”
Some Twitter users claim that the Belgians being targeted are victims as a result of using Indian-based “click farms” to purchase likes, retweets and other forms of engagement in order to bolster their prominence on the popular social media platform.
The practice doesn’t appear to be new. There were similar social media campaigns by the cult back in 2017 where members attempted to go viral by massively tweeting an agreed-upon hashtag from both genuine accounts and using Twitter bots, hoping to appear in the “Trending” section.
Cult members have done similar things on Facebook and in Youtube comments, with the ultimate goal of spreading their cult leader’s teachings and ideas.
The recent spam tweets seem to have been sent by Indians who write them in Dutch or French, including a Belgian cell phone number that one can call “for questions.” When VRT contacted the number on WhatsApp, they were promptly given a 448-page PDF containing the cult’s philosophy.
The cult’s website lists contact numbers for a number of countries, including the United States, Australia, Canada and Belgium. A video on Youtube seems to indicate that they are active in Flanders.
The Brussels Times