Stern action if social media platforms attempt to influence polls: Govt

RSTV Bureau
File photo of union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

File photo of union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Amid probe by US privacy watchdog over a potential breach of user confidentiality by the social network major Facebook, the government sounded out a warning to all social media platforms of ‘strong action’ if any attempt was made by them to influence the country’s electoral process through undesirable means.

Union IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also said the government fully supports freedom of press, speech and expression and is for exchange of ideas on social media.

“…any attempt by social media sites, including Facebook, to influence India’s electoral process through undesirable means will not be tolerated, he told reporters in Parliament House complex.
“If need be, strong action will be taken,” he said.

social mediaThe US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), an independent government body charged with insuring that companies abide by their own privacy policies, is looking at whether Facebook violated a 2011 consent decree after media reports alleged that it had handed the data of millions of users to a political consultancy.

Reports had alleged that Cambridge Analytica used data mined from Facebook in the voter research it conducted for President Donald Trump during the 2016 elections campaign.

Meanwhile, alleging that Congress party had links with Cambridge Analytica, Prasad said, “…whether to win elections, Congress will depend on data manipulation and theft of data.”

“What is the role of Cambridge Analytica in social media profile of Rahul Gandhi,” he asked.

Responding to the allegations, the Congress party termed it blatant false and diversionary tactics by the government.

It is the BJP which has links with the firm and it handled its campaigning in elections, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said.

(With inputs from PTI)