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Social media warriors’ battle-ready with their ‘weapons’ of parodies, memes and hashtags

There are many groups in the name of Dalits, Muslims or ideology of this party or that party and they just create an impression and panic among the people of their community as if India is not safe for them

Social media users in India need to be careful of propaganda ahead. Delhi polls are approaching and the social media battle has heated up as BJP, Congress try to breach ‘Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party’. The high-stakes tussle for power in the national capital is also being hotly contested in the virtual world with parties’ social media warriors battle-ready with their ‘weapons’ of parodies, memes and hashtags.

Ever wondered how a messaging app could change political fate in India? WhatsApp users in India may be astonished to learn that there’s more to messaging apps than interactive medium. These days, it has become a political propaganda tool for porn-sharing groups. Anything to everything, moral to immoral and fake to make belief as truth, this one particular app has not only grabbed your time, peace and attention by making you addicted to it but it has influenced your thought process and also your mindset. It is conditioning you every day against one particular agenda.  If educated people are falling trap to such things then one can imagine about common man of this country. What are we achieving out of it? No one knows. Similarly, there are many groups in the name of Dalits, Muslims or ideology of this party or that party and they just create an impression and panic among the people of their community as if India is not safe for them. They too share photo shopped pictures, videos, fake write-ups and much more to make believe their point by endorsing one or the other political party and condemning the rival party. There are thousands of such groups and people are divided in those groups.

The acclimatising goes on 24/7. They just don’t stop there, the same post is circulated on social media by all the participants and from there it again gets circulated further. This is how we are colluding the entire ambience against our country. Trust me, our country knows how to live with diversity, all those born on this soil belong to this nation and it belongs to them. There is nothing to feel unsecured or threatened about. You have both sides; if some hate you, there are many who hold you. No matter whosoever rules you, they don’t change your life for sure. WhatsApp is probably the best example of the vast potential that messaging apps hold. With over millions of active users it helps them socialise. But the abuse of such apps needs to be monitored. Visual cues such as photos and graphics portraying Modi as the saviour of the nation alongside memes mocking the other parties’ candidates were shared on social media and WhatsApp messenger by a team of dedicated Modi supporters, their numbers stretching into the far hundred thousands.

On the other hand, how fake is India’s PM and attacks on Modi with videos and pictures too get viral but in comparison right-wingers are more aggressive. If you remember there was a photo meant to show a younger, humble Modi sweeping the floors that went viral and was later debunked as a doctored image of another man. That didn’t matter, though; for a very long time during and after the elections, the photo had become a symbol of Modi’s modest roots. It continued to be right-winger’s social media warfare not only as effective communication but also contributed to Modi’s win in the elections. However, the reality of their claims got exposed. Six years on nothing has changed much in IT cell’s approach. They are after any one to anything, the latest victims are all those news personal who exposed JNU violence or those who stood by students. Celebrities to think tanks all were under attack with derogatory statements. Same is in the case of Arvind Kejriwal, there are social media posts that say if you want to teach a lesson to JNU and leftists, then vote out Kejriwal in Delhi and chose a BJP government whereas the fight between JNU students is all about ideology.

Students were beaten brutally for protesting against fees hike to CAA and NRC the new bill that BJP implemented recently. Every action calls for reaction, both right and left are equally guilty for spreading violence and creating unrest across the country especially in Delhi to target 2020 elections. The fake news problem in India is very real. Depending on the content spread on social media which is unfortunately based on falsified information, the opinions are created. The fake information on social media builds fear psychosis among people. In fact, the ongoing tension itself was believed to have been a sure to result in an image offensive to JNU students circulated through Facebook.  Plus attributed to anti-Hindu and anti-national rant these fake circulations created lots of anxiety among students. There was almost a riot like situation in the University, but no one took action against the perpetrators. Rather, action was taken on the ones who unmasked the fact took beatings and attacks. There are many such stories and numerous videos that get circulated on WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter allegedly showing anything to everything by conditioning the minds of people. Having investigated the sources of every single video, each could have led to communal tensions and violent incidents in parts of India. But we the people of the nation have become slaves to smartphone and IT-Cell Propaganda University. Social media has been a breeding ground for misinformation since long time and ironically the seeds of misinformation somehow sown by the IT-Cells on root level itself.

While Facebook and Twitter are highly public spaces where news, photos and videos generally flow freely, WhatsApp is more classified. This app was actually designed to keep people’s information secure and private, so no one is able to access the contents of people’s messages but now this has become dangerous tool in people’s hand to propagate all that they want. People are afraid that bad things will happen if they say something wrong on social media. WhatsApp is a kind of safe place for people and they can discuss more conspiring things. However, while WhatsApp-spread misinformation has become an increasing concern across the world along with efforts to debunk it, this is somewhat looming danger. Without facts checking, the users are irresponsibly passing messages about crime, violence, politics and communal riots. Now, all Indian political parties are geared up for 2020 against one particular party of Assembly elections by making thousands of groups and communities. The whoopla has already begun, so one needs to be smart enough to not get carried away by such schemes and use their own judgement.

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Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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