Wednesday 25 May 2022
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Sonia Gandhi has problems with social media influence on politics

Flying on the face of the complaint of Sonia Gandhi, it was the INC that was alleged to have had a truck with Facebook via Cambridge Analytica, aimed at manipulating Indian voters

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Indian National Congress (INC) chief Sonia Gandhi today drew the parliament’s attention to the growing ‘danger’ of social media giants being used to threaten democracy. Speaking in the Lok Sabha, she said: “Global companies like Facebook and Twitter are used increasingly to shape political narratives by leaders, parties and their proxies.” Going against the popular perception that the social media companies are anti-BJP/ as well as anti-Hindu, the INC head said that it “shows the connivance of the ruling establishment with these social media platforms to set political narratives, which is not helpful for democracy and the democratic structure.”

Amid interruptions by MPs from other parties, Sonia Gandhi urged the government to “put an end to systematic influence and interference of Facebook and other social media giants in electoral politics of the world’s largest democracy.” She further stressed on protecting the country’s democracy and social harmony.

Gandhi also focused on social media giants providing a level playing field to all parties, saying, “It has repeatedly come to public notice that global social media companies aren’t providing a level playing field to all parties.”

According to Sonia Gandhi, emotionally charged disinformation or fake news is shaping young, impressionable minds. “The proxy advertising companies like Facebook and other social media giants are aware of it and are profiting from it,” she said.

Making a Zero Hour submission in the Lok Sabha, former INC president and Sonia Gandhi’s son Rahul Gandhi alleged that Facebook was ‘worse for democracy’. Sharing several reports on Twitter accusing FB of helping the ruling party reach out to voters, he wrote “Meta-worse for democracy.”

The dynast also referred to a report published in pro- website Al Jazeera and The Reporters’ Collective claiming that Facebook had offered BJP cheaper deals for election advertisements as compared to other political parties.

Ironically, it was the INC that was alleged to have had a truck with Facebook, aimed at manipulating Indian voters. Cambridge Analytica’s then-CEO Alexander Nix, who was suspended in 2018, had met with Rahul Gandhi, who was then Congress vice president, and former union ministers Jairam Ramesh and P Chidambaram. Cambridge Analytica was accused of data of millions of Facebook users to manipulate elections in countries including India.

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