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Will Indian Origin Voters support the Britain’s Labour Party?

Britain’s Indian community has traditionally voted Labour, though there has been a shift over the decades

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London Bridge, Pixabay

UK, April 27, 2017: As campaigning gathers pace for Britain’s snap general election, with many polls suggest a comfortable lead for the Conservative Party, but the question remains how Britain’s Indian community will vote? The 1.5 million people within the diaspora constitute a sizeable chunk of the electorate, particularly in areas such as Leicester, or London neighborhoods such as Southall.

According to The Hindu report, Britain’s Indian community has traditionally voted Labour, though there has been a shift over the decades. “The older generations had very strong links with local Labour parties and there was community voting… Now it’s a mixture of younger generations being assimilated as Asian British and less likely to follow the lead of their parents…and fewer community bonds,” says Dr. Stephen Fisher, professor of political sociology and an expert on political behavior at Oxford University.

Labour have seen a collapse in their crucial ethnic minority vote since 2010 in a blow for Ed Miliband with three-quarters of Indian voters abandoning the party.

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Influential pollsters say that members belonging to Labour Party are mistaken in their belief they are “sitting pretty” with the ethnic minority vote and Indian, Pakistani and African voters are turning away from the party in huge numbers.

The number of Indian voters identifying themselves with the Labour party have fallen from 77 percent in 1997 to just 18 percent in 2014 – a fall of over three quarters, according to the figures from the British Election Study.

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Complicating the situation will be the outcome of the Brexit referendum last year (2016). While there were efforts by the Leave campaign to woo the Asian voters with promises of being able to go soft on non-EU immigrants once Britain was out of the EU (European Union), the results suggest this had only limited impact, and Indians voted clearly to remain, mentioned The Hindu report.

There are many other factors that are likely to come into play, such as current consultation on the introduction of anti-caste legislation, which was used by some groups in 2015 to push Hindus in particular to support the Conservatives. The Labour Party’s shift to the left, and the appeal of leader Jeremy Corbyn will also come into play, as will the extent to which members of the community, particularly younger people, will be motivated to vote, says Dr. Martin.

– prepared by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram, Twitter: @NikitaTayal6 

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Elderly And Conservatives Shared More Fake News On Facebook in 2016

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Deb Roy, a former Twitter chief media scientist, said the problem is that the American news diet is "full of balkanized narratives"

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Facebook, Fake News
Facebook 'tricked' kids, parents to spend money on 'free' games: Report. VOA

People over 65 and ultraconservatives shared about seven times more fake information masquerading as news on Facebook than younger adults, moderates and super liberals during the 2016 election season, a new study found.

The first major study to look at who is sharing links from debunked sites found that not many people were doing it. On average, only 8.5 percent of those studied — about 1 person out of 12 — shared false information during the 2016 campaign, according to the study in Wednesday’s issue of the journal Science Advances. But those doing it tended to be older and more conservative.

“For something to be viral, you’ve got to know who shares it,” said study co-author Jonathan Nagler, a politics professor and co-director of the Social Media and Political Participation Lab at New York University. “Wow, old people are much more likely than young people to do this.”

Battling back

Facebook and other social media companies were caught off guard in 2016 when Russian agents exploited their platforms to meddle with the U.S. presidential election by spreading fake news, impersonating Americans and running targeted advertisements to try to sway votes. Since then, the companies have thrown millions of dollars and thousands of people into fighting false information.

Facebook, fake news
This Nov. 1, 2017, photo shows prints of some of the Facebook ads linked to a Russian effort to disrupt the American political process and stir up tensions around divisive social issues, released by members of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, in Washington. According to a study published Jan. 9, 2019, in Science Advances, people over 65 and conservatives shared far more false information in 2016 on Facebook than others. VOA

Researchers at Princeton University and NYU in 2016 interviewed 2,711 people who used Facebook. Of those, nearly half agreed to share all their postings with the professors.

The researchers used three different lists of false information sites — one compiled by BuzzFeed and two others from academic research teams — and counted how often people shared from those sites. Then to double check, they looked at 897 specific articles that had been found false by fact checkers and saw how often those were spread.

All those lists showed similar trends.

When other demographic factors and overall posting tendencies are factored in, the average person older than 65 shared seven times more false information than those between 18 and 29. The seniors shared more than twice as many fake stories as people between 45 and 64 and more than three times that of people in the 30-to-44-year-old range, said lead study author Andrew Guess, a politics professor at Princeton.

The simplest theory for why older people share more false information is a lack of “digital literacy,” said study co-author Joshua Tucker, also co-director of the NYU social media political lab. Senior citizens may not tell truth from lies on social networks as easily as others, the researchers said.

Facebook, Fake News
A user gets ready to launch Facebook on an iPhone, in North Andover, Mass., June 19, 2017. Facebook has made changes to fight false information, including de-emphasizing proven false stories in people’s feeds so others are less likely to see them. VOA

Signaling identity

Harvard public policy and communication professor Matthew Baum, who was not part of the study but praised it, said he thought sharing false information was “less about beliefs in the facts of a story than about signaling one’s partisan identity.” That’s why efforts to correct fakery don’t really change attitudes and one reason why few people share false information, he said.

When other demographics and posting practices are factored in, people who called themselves very conservative shared the most false information, a bit more than those who identified themselves as conservative. The very conservatives shared misinformation 6.8 times more often than the very liberals and 6.7 times more than moderates. People who called themselves liberals essentially shared no fake stories, Guess said.

Nagler said he was not surprised that conservatives in 2016 shared more fake information, but he and his colleagues said that did not necessarily mean that conservatives are by nature more gullible when it comes to false stories. It could simply reflect that there was much more pro-Donald Trump and anti-Hillary Clinton false information in circulation in 2016 that it drove the numbers for sharing, they said.

However, Baum said in an email that conservatives post more false information because they tend to be more extreme, with less ideological variation than their liberal counterparts and they take their lead from Trump, who “advocates, supports, shares and produces fake news/misinformation on a regular basis.”

Facebook, social media
Silhouettes of laptop users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this illustration. VOA

The researchers looked at differences in gender, race and income but could not find any statistically significant differences in sharing of false information.

Improvements

After much criticism, Facebook made changes to fight false information, including de-emphasizing proven false stories in people’s feeds so others were less likely to see them. It seems to be working, Guess said. Facebook officials declined to comment.

Also Read: EU Authorities Direct Tech Giants To Submit Reports Regarding ‘Fake News’

“I think if we were to run this study again, we might not get the same results,” Guess said.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Deb Roy, a former Twitter chief media scientist, said the problem is that the American news diet is “full of balkanized narratives” with people seeking information that they agree with and calling true news that they don’t agree with fake.

“What a mess,” Roy said. (VOA)