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Can Social Media Control “Objectionable Content” And “Political Bias” From Its Platforms?

Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp intensified its fight against misinformation soon after dozens of lynching incidents in the country last year were linked to rumours spread on its platform.

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Facebook's political ad tracking has gone live for India, showing ad spends from the parties and their affiliates. Pixabay

Major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are aware of the damage fake news can cause to the election process in India. But none has one simple solution to eliminate the impact that misinformation can have on millions of voters.

After facing flak from the government, social media giants are in a huddle and have devised some tools and launched a few initiatives to fight fake news and political bias, in collaboration with the Election Commission of India.

China-based popular video social networking app TikTok has also reached out to the Election Commission to comply with its instructions and establish an escalation channel, abiding by the model code of conduct.

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According to Twitter’s Global Vice President of Public Policy, Colin Crowell, Twitter has now put in place a dedicated team for maintaining site integrity and focused on cleaning manipulation networks that might affect the voting process in India. Pixabay

“We have also informed Election Commission that we will not serve any paid political advertisements on our platforms in India throughout this election period,” ByteDance, which operates social media apps such as TikTok and Helo, said in a statement shared with IANS.

Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp intensified its fight against misinformation soon after dozens of lynching incidents in the country last year were linked to rumours spread on its platform.

From launching awareness programmes on dangers of fake news on TV, radio and digital platforms to limiting the number of forwards to five, the messaging platform has introduced several measures.

“We’re pleased that the recent changes we’ve made to limit viral content and educate users is having an impact. This work is never done — there is more that we can and will do,” WhatsApp India head Abhijit Bose said in a statement this week.

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This not even social media players are sure of as, in their own words, there is much more to be done on this front. Pixabay

WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook is also banking on a multi-pronged strategy to fight fake news ahead of the elections. From verifying political ads to expanding the third-party fact checkers programme in India and making information labelled as fake less visible on News Feed, the social media giant has taken several measures to reduce the impact of misinformation.

Richard Allan, Facebook’s Vice President for Global Policy Solutions, said recently that the company was establishing a task force comprising “hundreds of people” in the country to prevent bad actors from abusing its platform.

Facebook’s political ad tracking has gone live for India, showing ad spends from the parties and their affiliates.

Micro-blogging site Twitter, which earlier faced accusations of being “slow” in removing “objectionable content” and “political bias” from its platform, has started showing billing details of political ads as its Ads Transparency Center for the country went live this week.

According to Twitter’s Global Vice President of Public Policy, Colin Crowell, Twitter has now put in place a dedicated team for maintaining site integrity and focused on cleaning manipulation networks that might affect the voting process in India.

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Would these efforts deter the unofficial troll army of political parties from posting misinformation?

This not even social media players are sure of as, in their own words, there is much more to be done on this front. (IANS)

Next Story

Pakistan Pushes Cyber Warfare Against India on Twitter

Using network analysis, research team discovered there was a significant level of activity from Pakistan related to #GoBackModi

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Pakistan aggressively ups sinister propaganda against India on Twitter. Pixabay

Pakistan is aggressively pushing sinister propaganda against India via ramping up cyber warfare on Twitter, a new report said on Monday.

According to tech startup Logically AI, unscrupulous agents from Pakistan spread misinformation via #GobackModi campaign on Twitter during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Chennai.

Using network analysis, the research team discovered there was a significant level of activity from Pakistan related to #GoBackModi.

This involved Pakistan-based accounts posing as Tamil and Marathi accounts, and accounts along with bots engaging with authentic tweets to boost their engagement.

“Social media has become a hotbed for spreading ‘fake news’. These accounts are generally operated through fake profiles created cross borders. The primary objective to spread misinformation and disinformation through these accounts is to disturb the civil discourse,” Lyric Jain, Founder of Logically, said in a statement.

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Regarding Cyber Warfare, Twitter said that the company is committed to the principles of openness, transparency and impartiality and no one is above its rules. Pixabay

“This is the second instance where Logically was able to discover fake accounts that trace back to Pakistani IP addresses. Prior to this, during general elections, we had busted fake news and accounts which also originated from China and Pakistan,” Jain added.

According to Twitter, the company is committed to the principles of openness, transparency and impartiality and no one is above its rules.

“We enforce our policies judiciously and impartially for all individuals — regardless of their political beliefs, professional position or background,” a Twitter spokesperson told IANS.

Giving a befitting reply to Pakistan’s cyber warfare, Netizens in India trended “DontGoBackModi” as the Prime Minister met Jinping in Tamil Nadu’s Mamallapuram.

Earlier in August, Pakistan admitted that 333 Twitter accounts were suspended for writing on Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370.

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After Pakistan’s request, Twitter agreed to alert the Pakistan government before it suspends official accounts. Pixabay

The handles were suspended by Twitter following the objection by the Indian authorities in view of false and provocative content being disseminated through the accounts.

Pakistan’s Dawn reported in August that some 200 Twitter accounts were suspended for apparently posting about Kashmir. The claim came from journalists, activists, government officials and fans of the military tweeting.

After Pakistan’s request, Twitter agreed to alert the Pakistan government before it suspends official accounts.

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After abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution from Jammu & Kashmir on August 5, The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), public relations wing of the Pakistan armed forces, began spreading fake news related to Kashmir and sow seeds of discord among security forces and fuel hatred among citizens in India. (IANS)