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BJP, Congress spread lies on social media during 2019 polls: Study

Posted August 15th, 2022, 11:41 AM IST

BJP, Congress spread lies on social media during 2019 polls: Study

The BJP and the Congress were both sources and targets of misinformation on social media platforms during the 2019 general elections, according to a study conducted by Microsoft Research India and published in the journal South Asian History and Culture.

According to the study 'Political hazard: misinformation in the 2019 Indian general election campaign,' misinformation on social media in the 2019 general election reached people not only through forwarded WhatsApp messages, but was also frequently circulated online through legitimate political entities.

The study by Syeda Zainab Akbar, Anmol Panda, and Joyojeet Pal revealed that "all major political parties incorporated online misinformation into their campaign strategies, which included both lies about their opponents as well as propaganda and other positive-themed information to show themselves in a good light."

The study examined 1,014 fact-checked stories from March 10 to May 23, 2019 and discovered that the BJP and Congress were responsible for the vast majority of misinformation posts. Across party lines, the BJP was the most common source of misinformation, followed by the Congress. Parties such as AAP and TMC are both sources and targets of fake news, but the targeting directed at them is more personal.

Among non-political entities, 36 percent came from Facebook individual users, 21 percent from Facebook groups/pages, 21 percent from Twitter handles, 8 percent from mainstream media sources, 8 percent from other social media sources, and 6 percent came from celebrities.

Though fact-checking organisations are in place to address the misinformation problem, their methodology limits them to stating the objective truth, and their adherence to the IFCN code of non-partisanship principles renders them ineffective in debunking political targeting and affective value without jeopardising their integrity. “As a result, we identify the need for moderators of misinformation to consistently check the continued persistence of affect and uproot the discredited information,” the study stated.