Russia To Influence Indian Election?
Russia plans to influence the public opinion in India through social media ahead of the 2019 Parliamentary Election!
Philip N Howard – the statutory Professor of Internet Studies at the Oxford Internet Institute and Balliol College at the University of Oxford – has made the revelation during a hearing of the US Senate Intelligence Committee on Foreign Influence on Social Media platforms. Currently, the Intelligence Committee of the US Legislature prepares a report on the influence of a foreign state on social media. However, Howard did not elaborate further about the issue.
Russia had influenced the US Presidential Election in 2016 through the social media and American intelligence agencies admitted it in 2017. Also, Russia reportedly influenced the Hungarian election in recent times. According to a senior member of the US Senate, Brazil, too, is on Russia’s radar. He explained that both India and Brazil have a number of media houses and the majority of them are not fully professional. And despite being fully professional, the US media failed to overcome the Russian influence. “The US actually has the most professionalised media in the world. It’s learned certainly to evaluate their sources and no longer report tweets as is given,” stressed Howard.
The professor further said: “I would say that the greater concern would be amongst the media institutions in our democratic allies. I believe that the Russians have moved from targeting us, in particular, to Brazil and India; other enormous democracies that will be running elections in the next few years.”
Meanwhile, Howard urged both India and Brazil to constantly monitor news published by the Russian media, insisting: “While we still see significant Russian activity, those countries have the media institutions that need learn, need to develop.”
Skilled Russian experts can easily make posts, containing wrong information, viral on the social media. So far, the US has failed to take any step to address this issue. Talking to the media a couple of days ago, Vice Chairman of Senate Intelligence Committee Senator Mark Warner said that Russia’s active measures have revealed a dark underbelly of the social media ecosystem.
As of now, India has no concrete plan to counter the Russian influence. Perhaps, this is the toughest challenge the world’s largest democracy is facing ahead of the 2019 Parliamentary Poll. It will be interesting to see if President Vladimir Putin can help his friend Narendra Nodi win the election again!
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