New Delhi: TMC leader Derek O'Brien Tuesday attacked social media firm Facebook for allegedly running election campaign for the Bharatiya Janta Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
He also blamed Google and Youtube along with Facebook for carrying 80 per cent advertisements of the BJP only. Participating in the discussion on the Motion of Thanks to the President's address in the Rajya Sabha, All India Trinamool Congress leader Derek said, "The NDA also had a hidden partner. Non-disclosed alliance....Facebook senior management in India is defacto campaign managers for BJP.
Facebook Delhi office is virtually extended IT cell. I am saying this with all responsibility." Talking about role of media in general elections, he said, "Facebook censored anti-BJP news and put other parties in jeopardy."
Questioning the role of social media, he said, "The Facebook algorithm censors anti-BJP content and then you come to Whatsapp owned by Facebook. I have one lovely quote on Whatsapp. September 2018, we are capable of delivering any message to the public whether it is sweet or sour, true or fake, we can do this because we have 35 Whatsapp groups. This is how we can make anything viral.
Now he is the Home Minister of India. Where are we headed and of course, in return Facebook got other benefits." "They have different brands. It has become propaganda. We need partnership of the media. Four quick examples why cannot the media be partner with people of India and talk about money spent in the last elections."
He informed the House, "Eighty per cent of the advertisements on Google, Facebook, Youtube are pro-BJP advertisements. It is not level-playing field." Giving another example, he said, "There was women's foundation called Sarvani Foundation. Now it is called association of billion minds. Go investigate association of that. They are surrogate advertising creator for BJP. The expense of Association of Billion minds does not even go to election expenses (of the BJP)."
He further said, "All data points where the beneficiaries of all programmes are used, that data is used to reach the polling booths via these beneficiaries. So this is data misuse. We have also spoken about data darkness where data disappears."
Talking about relevance of social media, he said, "These days with media in hand, it is easy to manufacture great men. Dr B R Ambedkar said this. He saw this problem coming long years ago. We appeal to media owners that you have role to play to save democracy. We appeal to the journalists to bring back the days of Editors, the 60's 70's. He also demanded sweeping electoral reforms saying that there should be a collegium to appoint election commissioner and also asked to reintroduce paper ballot. He also talked about state funding for the political parties for provide a level-playing field to all contestants during the elections.
He expressed his reservations against issuing advisories to the West Bengal government by the Centre, saying such directions are not being given to states like Uttar Pradesh where 25 people died in violence and to Bihar where 150 children died recently.
Earlier, Digvijay Singh (Congress) alleged, "You have injected venom of communalism into the people of this country. Slogans of Jai Shree Ram and Allah Hu Akbar are being raised in Parliament. This is not the tradition of Parliament."
Talking about the Indian economy, he said, "Economy is in shambles. You want economy to grow to USD 5 trillion by 2024. But that require economic growth of 20.1 per cent every year. You fudged the statistics and two senior officials resigned." Participating in the debate, Vinay P Saharsabuddhe (BJP) said that your (opposition) divide and rule policy would not work any more. He said that the government is taking care of all sections of society including Dalit and minorities.