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He is followed by 46 million on Twitter – but hot and false rumors characterizes the indian elections

More than 900 million indians are eligible to vote and the election process itself is so comprehensive that it takes five weeks, the final round of voting is now on Sunday.

in the last election In 2014 won the current prime minister Narendra Modi and his party BJP to a landslide victory. According to several experts on indian politics can victory be partly explained by the fact that they had a huge head start in the campaigns on social media.

– They have a strategic competence that is unparalleled in India's political history, " says Ravi Agrawal, the author of the book ”India Connected” and editor of the journal Foreign Policy.

however faced heavy criticism for the fact that they now devoted themselves to the controversial kampanjmetoder, disseminated the misleading messages and false rumors, and even seems to cooperate with right-wing groups for the organised harassment of critics and journalists. Many experts warn that the situation has worsened during this year's election, as India's internet users increased exponentially.

– If 2014 was the first election in India where social media was of great importance so can this year's election be the first where the fabricated news and false rumor mill has a vital importance, " says Ravi Agrawal.

this is where the digital revolution been more extensive than in India.

In the two decades they've gone from around 20 million internet users over a half-billion. The next year it is estimated that more than 700 million indians have access to the internet, most of them only via mobile phone.

the Next year it is estimated that more than 700 million indians have access to the internet, most of them only via mobile phone. BJP supporters hold up their mobile phones during the Modis election campaign in december 2018. Photo by Himanshu Vyas/Hindustan Times/TT

The average mobiltelefonanvändaren in India consume more mobile data per month than the average user in Europe.

" It's a unique situation because we have hundreds of millions of voters who just started to use the internet and who don't always have developed a digital literacy, says Ravi Agrawal.

According to Apar Gupta on the Internet Freedom Foundation has millions of indian voters been fabricated nyhetskampanjer and misleading propaganda that incites violence against muslims and religious minorities. In particular, it has Facebookägda communications software Whatsapp a extremely influence, where it is difficult to control the spread of threats and harassment because the messages are private.

to lndiens ingrained social hierarchies, making the country's democracy is particularly vulnerable to the sort of polarizing and controversial message, which often spread quickly on social media.

Narendra Modis critics believe that he himself has encouraged, rather than trying to tame, the evolution towards a harder tone of voice in social media. His own Twitter account, with 46 million followers, can be the most powerful political account in the world, in competition with Donald Trump. Where he has often, just like Trump and his family, shared the controversial message from the extreme nationalists.

Narendra Modi holds up the BJP's party symbol and takes a selfie. Photo: Ajit Solanki/AP

the choice by focusing on the economic promises. Every home would soon have a toilet, each hand would hold a smartphone. Poverty could, in principle, to disappear, and a million new jobs created every month.

Despite a steady growth of around 6 per cent have these promises not been fulfilled. The unemployment rate hit a record high in 2017 and is said to have contributed to the BJP's setbacks in the local elections. When the federal railway authority recently announced, after 90 000 new employees got the 62 million applications.

During the election campaign has Modi focused on a highly hindunationalistisk agenda, with the demonization of the opponent, the congress party and a clear attempt to sow discord between hindus and muslims. Modi himself has described his rivals in the congress party as ”a party for muslims” and accusing their leaders to be more concerned about Pakistan than India's well-being.

can explain the success stories on social media. A host of research in recent years has shown how platforms like Youtube, Twitter and Facebook favors populism and political extremism, by lifting up the message that creates the most engagement, in the form of, for example, comments and shares.

Modi and the BJP realized earlier than most of the populist leaders how they could use these platforms.

Modi realized, above all, that social media favors a political environment in which the person is more important than politics. Many of India's political parties were created around a specific sakpolitisk issue or ideology, but for social media impact, it has become more difficult to communicate political issues. So we have election campaigns that is more reminiscent of the us presidential elections. In this election, it is not the BJP against the congress party, but it is Modi against Rahul Gandhi, says Ravi Agrawal.

Swati Chaturvedi, journalist and author of the book ”I am a troll”. Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP

Swati Chaturvedis book ”I am a troll”, she describes how the BJP's digital chief strategist Arvind Gupta has created one of the world's most effective and aggressive digital campaigns. Gupta has formed the BJP's so-called CYBER Cell, a loosely organised digital group, which is controlled from the headquarters at 11 Ashoka Road in New Delhi but can work with actors throughout the country, as well as globally.

Levine claims that the headquarters coordinated the videos and organized trollmetoder with right-wing extremists and trolls. According to an interview with the dissident BJP-the strategist Sadhavi Khosla has BJP's IT Cell daily received instructions from the Gupta to harass or mock political opponents or journalists who have written critical articles about Modi.

Often, they were encouraged to spread the coarse personal attacks, against the established politicians and journalists. After that, Levine published his book, she has become the subject of organized harassment on social media. On one occasion cancelled at the embassy of Sweden in New Delhi her from participating in a panel discussion on digital trollkampanjer, because the threat against her was judged to be serious.

if the use of the controversial word in social media. Even the congress party has been involved in a series of scandals during the election campaign, where they seem to make eager attempts to catch up with the BJP when it comes to misleading promotions in social media.

Facebook had recently shut down by 1100 indian accounts which are actively spreading misleading information ahead of the elections. 700 of them belonged to the congress party. But according to many experts, the stand the BJP when it comes to consistent harassment and mockery of political opponents.

Faced with the choice, they have mainly indulged in personal attacks on Modis main rival of the prime minister, Rahul Gandhi, who in Twitter posts and viral videos from the accounts linked to the BJP mocked for everything from his dialect to the alleged corruption.

the Party BJP page on Facebook. Facebook and Twitter has promised to improve the monitoring of misleading and malicious messages on the platforms during the indian elections. Photo: Manish Swarup/AP

, has promised to improve the monitoring of misleading and malicious messages on the platforms during elections, but during the spring, Facebook had to pick away quantities of fabricated or manipulated the videos, as shown, inter alia, violence against muslims, incorrect information on the indian military and the fighting between India and Pakistan.

Facebook in India insist still on their platforms, including Whatsapp and Instagram, is primarily used for good and constructive purposes.

Facebook remains a platform where good ideas, good stories and concerns are shared and spread, " says Shivnath Thukral, Facebook's director of public policy in India, in an interview with CNN.

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