New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its supporters accounted for a lion's share of political advertising worth over Rs 4 crore on Facebook, according to data compiled by the social media giant.
The advertisements run for the ruling dispensation range from promotion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government policies to those of its leaders, including BJP President Amit Shah -- all of which were not necessarily paid by the party but by its supporters. From February till March 2, 2019, the social media giant showed 16,556 ads related to politics and issues of national importance with ad spends crossing more than Rs 4.13 crore, according to Facebook's Ad Archive Report. The specific date on which Facebook started collecting data was not disclosed. However, on February 7, it had said the enforcement of the new features and the political advertisements policy, that includes having disclaimers, would start from February 21. The top spender in the tally was page 'Bharat Ke Mann Ki Baat' that ran 1,168 ads and spent Rs 1.01 crore, followed by 'Nation with NaMo' that spent Rs 52.24 lakh and 'MyGov India' that had an ad spent of Rs 25.27 lakh in the said time period. The page 'Bharatiya Janata Party' had an ad spend of Rs 6.6 lakh, while Shah's page had an spending of Rs 2.12 lakh. Compared to this, the Congress and its supporters spent much lesser amounts with the highest being about Rs 48,000. Pages like 'Im with Congress', 'Congress Party admirers forum' and 'Vote for Congress' had spends of Rs 684, Rs 535 and Rs 490, respectively in the stated duration. Meanwhile, the Telugu Desam Party spent Rs 35,867 during the said period. In February, Facebook had said political advertisements on its platform will carry a 'disclaimer' offering details about those responsible for running the ad as the social media giant looks to bring transparency into political ads ahead of elections in India. This was done to give people more information about who is responsible for the ads they see. With ensuing general elections, the Indian government had warned social media platforms of strong action if any attempt was made to influence the country's electoral process through undesirable means. Over the past few months, social media players like Facebook, Twitter, and Google have promised to infuse more transparency into political advertisements on their platform, and have since announced a slew of measures as part of election integrity efforts. Facebook, which has over 200 million users in India, has stated that it is committed to creating a new standard of transparency and authenticity for political advertising on its platform and Instagram.