Mumbai Police brought in Bollywood artist Badshah over the weekend for several hours of questioning in connection to an alleged scheme involving the purchasing of fake social media metrics.
Badshah's digital presence first came under scrutiny last year when it appeared he had broken a high-profile streaming record on YouTube. Upon releasing his single "Paagal," the song's music video rocketed to nearly 75 million views in a 24-hour period. At the time,"Paagal" seemed to have dethroned BTS' "Boy With Luv" for the biggest debut on the platform, but after further review, YouTube decided not to award the record to "Paagal" and simultaneously announced that paid advertising views would be disqualified from consideration.
The incident has since landed Badshah as the focus of a broader criminal investigation into marketing companies that allegedly bolster digital profiles and content with fake followers and fake statistics.
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Publicly, Badshah has categorically denied any wrongdoing, but authorities claim to have obtained a confession from the artist. According to their account, during questioning Badshah admitted to purchasing 72 million views for the equivalent of $96,000. He was questioned for three consecutive days, with at least one interrogation lasting over nine hours.
In a statement following the questioning, Badshah commented, "I have spoken to the Mumbai Police. I have aided the officials in their investigation by cooperating and carrying out the due diligence on my part. I’ve categorically denied all the allegations leveled against me and made it clear that I was never involved in such practices, nor do I condone them."
Authorities have reportedly summoned over 20 individuals for questioning as part of the probe.