When it comes to elections, social media has become an intimate part of the campaign dynamics of all political parties across the world and Facebook, in turn, has become the most important platform as far as political campaigning is concerned. However, when it comes to the world’s biggest election (by population), it is a different ball game altogether, and the company is now going to beef up their fact checking team ahead of the 2019 elections in India. Facebook has been beleaguered by the spread of fake news and misinformation on the platform over the past few years, and the new development comes as no surprise.
According to an announcement by the social media giant on Monday, Facebook is going to expand its network of fact checkers in India as the world’s largest democracy goes into polls in May and with only a few months to go, the company’s job is going to be cut out. In the upcoming elections, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is hoping to be reelected and a fierce battle is on the cards with the Indian National Congress (INC).
Much of the battle will be fought on social media networks as both parties try to spread their message to as many people as possible and due to the sheer popularity of Facebook, it is going to be the most important platform for all parties. In addition to expanding its fact-checking network, Facebook also announced last week that the company is going to put political advertisements in the country through greater scrutiny.
Over the years, the spread of fake news has led to violence in some parts of India, and it is not a surprise that the company is now adding highly reputed Indian media companies to their network. The chief of news partnership at Facebook India, Manish Khanduri said, “We are committed to fighting the spread of false news on Facebook, especially ahead of the 2019 General Election campaign season.”
For instance, one of India’s biggest media conglomerates, the India Today Group, has joined the network and as of now, the size of the network stands at seven, according to Facebook. The important bit about political campaigning in India is that English is not always the language of choice. There are as many as 22 recognized scheduled languages in India and content is often posted in those languages. Facebook’s network will fact check posts not only in English but also in 5 other widely spoken languages in the country. Other than the spread of outright falsehoods, slander, and misinformation, hate speech is also a big problem and has often led to clashed between different communities in India.