European parliamentarians and officials have warned about the ability of social media users in India to manipulate the digital information environment for political and ideological propaganda.
At a briefing moderated by MEP Markéta Gregorová and streamed online on Tuesday, experts warned that digitization in India comes with challenges for first-time internet users who fall victim to fraud and lies.
Co-hosted by diaspora-led think tank Stichting The London Story, the session, entitled ‘Taking Stock of India’s Information Manipulation Ecosystem’, was attended by members of the European Parliament, the European Commission and experts from the UK Home Office, among others it in a press release.
“As digital India plots to bring more Indian citizens online, for the first time, internet users are easily falling victim to political scams and clever lies. We need to consider the impact this has on how the world’s largest democracy should deal with digitization,” said Gregorová, member of the Greens and the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Foreign Interference in All Democratic Processes in the European Union.
Facebook Whistleblower Sophie Zhang, London Story Chief Data Analyst Saikat Chatterjee, Senior Correspondent at BOOM Archis Chowdhury, PhD student Vignesh Karthik and Vihang Jumle were among the other speakers at the event.
Looking ahead, the panel expressed concern about future trends in India’s information manipulation ecosystem.
“India is in a troll farm arms race,” Zhang said, warning that neither the Indian government nor social media platforms have taken adequate steps to crack down on information manipulation in India.
“Elon Musk will not pay attention to things in India. Also, most governments are only interested in what is happening in their own countries. It is unlikely that there will be any action against India,” she was quoted as saying in the press release.
Saikat Chatterjee said: “As the EU seeks closer cooperation with India, we are examining the ability of India’s information manipulation ecosystem to spread disinformation and hate speech, and its potential impact on democracies around the world.”