Tensions between the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India rise amidst revelations of Facebook’s data privacy scandal.
Facebook has come under immense scrutiny after recent disclosures of how the private data of up to 87 million people was shared with British political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica (CA). It has since been revealed that the firm analyzed millions of profiles to understand the psychological patterns of individual users and exploited the same to influence voters during the US presidential elections and the UK Brexit campaign.
On March 27th, Christopher Wylie, the whistle-blower previously employed at CA testified against CA in the House of Commons. His testament revealed a crucial piece of information that is significant to the upcoming Indian elections. Wylie stated that CA “worked extensively in India” also expressing that the Congress party was one of their clients. Congress has denied the allegations.
It is important to note that India is Facebook’s largest market, with more users utilizing the site here than any other country- a whopping 250 million as of January 2018. The concerns regarding Facebook’s influence on user sentiment during the upcoming Indian elections is hence of the utmost gravity.
The Ministry of Electronics and IT in India issued a notice on the 28th of March that called upon Facebook to answer certain pressing questions on whether the privacy of Indian citizens had been compromised, if they had interfered in the Indian electoral process and on what regulatory measures Facebook was planning to implement to prevent the same from occurring.
Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer, Mike Schroepfer, released a post on the Facebook newsroom on April 4, which revealed that the data of around 562,455 users from India is estimated to have been compromised. The app “thisisyourdigitallife” was downloaded by 355 users in India, and the data collected from this app (now inactive) was supplied to CA. On authorization, the app begins to mine data from the friends of users, which in turn led to the high estimate of potentially affected Indian users: over half a million.
There’s a big election in India this year. There’s a big election in Brazil. There are big elections around the world, and you can bet we are really committed to doing everything that we need to, to make sure that the integrity of those elections on Facebook is secured
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, has acknowledged the salience of regulatory measures given the upcoming elections that are to take place and has agreed to take stringent reformatory action for data protection. He will appear for his testament to the US House Committee on April 11.
Photo credit: “geralt” at Pixabay