As the 2nd parliamentary election was nearing in 2013. A satire blog called Bhutanomics appeared on the online domain becoming the most popular blog among the community of anonymous social media using influencers.
It wrote many satirical blogs targeting one political party known as the Druk Phunsum Tshogpa (DPT) which won the first democratic election in Bhutan. It is accused by the same party of character assassinating their party leader and disinforming the general public to influence the voters and alleged that a private newspaper ‘The Bhutanese’ is linked to Bhutanomics as the two organs of then the opposition party known as People’s Democratic Party (PDP). At one time a Broadcasting Service called the BBS even questioned if the PDP party leader, then the opposition leader Tshering Tobgay, if he was behind the Bhutanomics because a comment appeared under his name which said it is a collaboration between the PDP members to which he denied.
The site later met with blockage from the internet platforms while the concerned agencies denied of blocking the site. The Ministry of Information and Communication, the Bhutan Media and Communication Authority and the internet provider Druknet all denied of being behind the blocking of the site, as blocking was described as censorship and filtering of media.
However, to this date the question of who blocked the site remains unknown and the satirical blog remains blocked or removed from the online platform.
|Prime actors:Anonymous website Bhutanomics |
|Transparency: Satirical posts but without declaring it as a fake news or a satirical page. |
Intent: Politically aspersive.
Dependency: Satirical posts
|It posted several satirical posts and self-composed letters targeted at one particular party known as DPT and its leadership. |
Harm: It propagates suspicion and distrust among the electorates to the particular party and its leadership. projects
Synthetic: The content was stretched with inaccuracy, distortion and misinformation.
Narrative(s): The content is aligned with the misinformation and fake news narrative.
|Target audience:General Bhutanese population|
|Election:It has a tone of pre-election political campaign to defame its targeted party and its leading members. |
Fundamental rights:In the meantime the website itself got blocked and removed from the online platform.
ABCDE Framework Analysis:
The year 2013 marked the outburst of anonymous culture in online social platforms of webpages, Facebook and tweeter in Bhutan because the 2nd democratic election was on set for voting. Of many Bhutanomics, a satirical webpage gained momentum among the readers becoming most popular for its skilful satirical posts. While the person or the institution behind is not known, it was certain from its targeted posts on a particular political party that it was a politically motivated person or a group of people behind the faceless webpage.
The actor or the actors remain hidden and unknown posting series of satirical posts targeted at a political party which formed the first democratic government in Bhutan.
All the contents are satirical posts of news articles, letters and jokes mostly very provocative. According to a complain submitted to the interim government by the DPT party, Bhutanomics is dangerously divisive and seditious. Some commentators on the DPT page which posted this complaint submitted to the interim government singed by its president the former Prime Minister on 11 June 2013 suggested that the people behind this site be traced since it is dangerous for the country.
It constantly posted satirical articles targeted at the particular pollical party investing into a Bhutanomics.com webpage hosting and domain.
The satirical posts by Bhutanomics made a constant post targeted at the particular political party prompting doubts of collaborated campaign of the opposition party, and newspaper which has been critical about the DPT government. The opposition leader Tshering Tobgay was even questioned by the media if he was behind the satirical webpage while DPT accused the private newspaper The Bhutanese and the Bhutanomics as the two organs of PDP the opposition party.
From BBS online page: February 27, 2013
The Case has been identified as a case of Disinformation and possible influence operation. This is because its satirical posts were mostly reversal of the information and because it has the aim of influencing the voters away from voting to one particular political party it is classified as an influence operation.
The Bhutanomics was a case of a most popular and successful satirical political webpage in 2013 which invoked the discourse on where the line can be drawn between freedom of speech and right to privacy. This is because the satirical posts were exploitive of individual privacy of its targeted political personals as well while it devolved into reversing the perspective of the targeted party’s successful initiative and developmental plans. At the same time, because of exploitive satirical approach attacking its targets, the webpage faced restrictions on online platforms and ended with the complete disappearance within the year being blocked from online platforms in Bhutan at the beginning and now possibly removed or deactivated. This blocking and disappearance of the webpage was also mystical since no agency concerned within Bhutan took responsibility of either blocking or removing it.