We seem to be living in an era of information overload. Social media networks like Whatsapp have become a double edged sword. With people spending more and more time on their smartphones, the politicians know that the smartphone screens are where they need to target now. And that’s why, beware of the increasing menace of fake news.
There is proof to this statement – researchers at Oxford have found that the number of countries what witness formally organized social media manipulation campaigns by a government or political party has already risen to 48 from 28 last year. This result comes from a July 2018 study on computational propaganda.
The study is based on a systematic analysis of local news articles reporting on cyber-troop activity in each country, an in-depth secondary literature review, and consultations with country-specific experts.
In India, like in the 38 other countries included in the study, cyber-troop activity is especially tied to elections. The researchers found evidence of political parties spreading propaganda on social networks during elections or referenda. WhatsApp is one of the key platforms where disinformation is spreading in India.
Researchers even found instances wherein political campaigners in India hired public relations or consulting firms to spread online propaganda.
It was also found that on Twitter, political parties use bots to boost their follower counts, or to retweet, like, or share content that supported their campaigns.
So spend more time talking and listening to ‘real’ and ‘live’ people; stop wasting so much time on the screens of your phone.