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End social media role in politics, says Sonia

"I urge the government to put an end to systematic influence and interference of Facebook and other social media giants in the electoral politics of world's largest democracy," she said in the Lok Sabha.

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New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday asked the government to act against social media companies which she said were interfering in Indian politics and alleged that this trend was a threat to Indian democracy.

“I urge the government to put an end to systematic influence and interference of Facebook and other social media giants in the electoral politics of world’s largest democracy,” she said in the Lok Sabha.

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“This is beyond partisan politics. We need to protect our democracy and social harmony regardless of who is in power,” she added.

Sonia Gandhi made the specific demand when Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla asked her what she wanted to convey when she went hammer and tongs against social media companies, saying they were influencing domestic politics in India.

Raising the issue during Zero Hour, she said she was going to talk about the “rising danger of social media being used to hack our privacy”. “Global companies like Twitter and Facebook are used increasingly to shape political narrative by leaders, political parties and their proxies. It has repeatedly come to public notice that global social media companies are not providing a level playing filed to all political parties,” she said.

“Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported how Facebook’s own hate speech rules are being bent to favour politicians of the ruling party. Recently, Al Jazeera and Reporters Collective demonstrated how a toxic ecosystem of proxy advertiser posing as news media is flourishing on Facebook bypassing election laws of our nation, breaking Facebook’s own rules and completely suppressing the voice of those who are speaking up against the government,” she said.

Sonia Gandhi said the “blatant manner in which social harmony is being disturbed by Facebook with the connivance of ruling establishment is dangerous for our democracy”.

“Young and old minds alike are being filled with hate through emotionally charged disinformation and proxy advertising companies… Facebook (is) aware of this and profiteering from this. “This report shows a growing nexus between big corporations, ruling establishment and global social media giants like Facebook.” 

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