Digital Platforms, Technologies and Data in the 2014 and 2019 Elections in India
The Indian elections have gained worldwide media attention in recent months, in particular for the role that social media has played in events in the country. In the run-up to state and other by-elections earlier this year, Congress and BJP reportedly created over 50,000 WhatsApp groups to spread campaign messages. Rumours and false information propagated through WhatsApp have instigated mobs that resulted in the killing of more than twenty innocent people since April. In one instance, a government employee hired to quell the child abduction rumours in the northeast state of Tripura was beaten and lynched. Although none of these incidents has been directly connected to campaign-created WhatsApp groups, they reflect how political and social divisions have been propagated and inflamed by digital technologies.
Tactical Tech partnered with researcher Elonnai Hickok to elucidate the role played by digital platforms and personal data in India’s recent and upcoming first-past-the-post general elections in 2019, constituting the country’s 17th Parliament. Elonnai is a specialist in researching and reporting on privacy, freedom of expression, cyber security and artificial intelligence in the context of public accountability.
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