After the humiliating defeat of Congress despite groundwork by its workers, Congress president Sonia Gandhi believes that the global social media companies are being abused to hack India’s democracy and urged the government to put an end to their “systematic influence and interference” in electoral politics. Sonia Gandhi, speaking during Zero Hour in the Lok Sabha, said global companies such as Facebook and Twitter are being increasingly used “to shape political narratives by leaders, political parties and their proxies”.
She described as an issue of paramount importance “the rising danger of social media being abused to hack our democracy” and added it has repeatedly come to public notice that global social media companies “are not providing a level playing field to all political parties. “She also referred to a report published in the Al Jazeera and The Reporters’ Collective claiming that Facebook had offered BJP cheaper deals for election advertisements as compared to other political parties. “These reports show a growing nexus between big corporations, the ruling establishment and global social media giants like Facebook,” she said.
The Congress chief said young and old minds are being “filled with hate” through emotionally charged disinformation, and proxy advertising companies like Facebook are profiting from it. Mrs Gandhi said the “blatant manner” in which social harmony is being “disturbed” by Facebook with the “connivance of the ruling establishment is dangerous for our democracy”.
“I urge the government to put an end to the systematic interference and influence of Facebook and other social media giants in the electoral politics of the world’s largest democracy. This is beyond partisan politics. We need to protect our democracy and social harmony regardless of who is in power,” Mrs Gandhi added. Social media has been constantly used to spread lies, hatred and divisiveness by BJP and its corporate proxies. Add to this a misuse of EC, Pegasis, UAPA, Governors, and constant mainstream media, you can imagine the poison that is being spread through India by BJP and RSS.
Mr T Arun a BJP supporter said, “Was the congress party or for that matter, any opposition party denied use of social media platform by the GoI? When the answer is no then why find an excuse for the loss of elections by congress using the august parliament forum, Congress lost Bengal also but did not raise any such issue but why now?”
Speaking during Zero Hour, BJP member Nishikant Dubey said the Congress party had tried to suppress freedom of speech by bringing in Section 66A in the Information Technology Act. “Congress party wants people to forget the history of Kashmir… On what basis Ghulam Mohammad Shah was made the (Jammu & Kashmir) chief minister and for what reason there were so many problems in Kashmir. It is still not decided whether Facebook and Twitter are considered publishers or intermediaries. Today when Yasin Malik, who has killed officers of Indian Air Force, is seen with Manmohan Singh in a photo, there is an attempt to suppress it,” Dubey said.
Rupal Mistry said, “Sonia Gandhi is 1000% correct; there is a lot of misinformation on the internet. Young minds are so much filled with hate and anger for democracy. The ruling party exists because of the false information they spread about the opposition; else they would have been out of power last time itself. Sonia Gandhi’s sayings are quite right and Facebook etc. is doing all bad things socially.”
Ashwajeet Gaikwad said, “Sonia Gandhi should not delude public by blaming electoral defeats on Twitter etc. States as diverse as Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Goa and Uttar Pradesh have given a unanimous verdict as far as congress is concerned. She should not underestimate the message from the common people.”
Sangita Amladi, a former bank employee said, “Congress had their chances. But they lost all of it. Now, these kinds of allegations are not going to help them win elections. Congress has to fight; they need their party leaders in place. She cannot sit and give sermons about how BJP is using all the tools. Just get out on the field and work. Congress thought they are the elite and privileged and they can ride on the past leaders forever. Well, 50% of the population doesn’t even know many tall leaders of the Congress party. However, what is the point in talking past.”