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After US elections, Facebook and Twitter are getting ready to interfere with Indian elections: Why the centre must take note before 2024

The obvious question that would arise in the minds of the people would be to wonder if the election result truly would have been any different had Twitter minded its business and not censored just one story that exposed the proximity of the Biden family to China and the corruption that seemingly ran deep.

“We do not allow anyone to use Twitter to manipulate or interfere in elections or other civic processes”, said Twitter in early October 2020. Little did people know, however, that Twitter would become a driving force behind information vital to the democratic process being censored thereby tarnishing the democratic process.

In the run-up to the US elections, Twitter played a significant role in censoring content that was inconvenient to now President elect Joe Biden. According to a report by Twitter itself, the social media giant labelled 3,00,000 tweets related to the US elections in just 15 days, between October 27th and November 11th. In fact, in a heinous act of censorship, Twitter had the gumption to censor the then President Donald Trump on election night itself.

Tweet by Donald Trump censored on election night

Earlier, his tweet was censored for vowing to enforce law and order in the wake of massive riots across the country.

It is pertinent to understand here that one may or may not agree with Donald Trump’s assertion of the elections being stolen. However, while the election is yet to be officially called and hearings to establish the authenticity of the voting process is still on, Twitter unilaterally decided what information American citizens should or should not read. While Twitter did not even desist from censoring the President of the United States, it also censored an important story that had surfaced in the run-up to the US Presidential Elections.

An investigative story by the New York Post, showing shady deals between Hunter Biden, Joe Biden and China was censored militantly by Twitter. Any tweet that shared the story was masked. The New York Post Twitter account itself was locked by Twitter for publishing that story and sharing it on Twitter.

In the investigative report the New York Post had asserted that they had accessed material from a damaged Macbook Pro, which revealed that Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, had introduced a businessman from Ukraine to his father while the latter was Vice President of the United States. It is pertinent to note here that Hunter Biden at the time was appointed to the Burisma Board and received a salary of $50,000 per month.

The report had published several documents and mentioned a video that proved that Joe Biden met Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of Burisma, where the extent of the Biden family’s involvement, and the sacking of a prosecutor, allegedly after pressure from the then VP Biden, is now under scrutiny.

Later, Fox News confirmed those reports. Furthermore, Fox News also reported that Joe Biden himself was in on a deal that involved Hunter Biden, his son, and a Chinese company.

By all accounts, this was an important story that could have changed the course of the US elections. The authenticity of this story or whether to base their vote on this story should have ideally depended on the citizens of the United States. One of the central principles of a thriving democracy is that the people have access to all the information and then, based on that information, they are free to make their decision. However, Twitter proved to be a great impediment to the election process itself when it chose to censor the story.

Ted Cruz, the junior states senator from Texas questioned Jack Dorsey of Twitter and asked him who elected him to take such decisions. Jack, in the process, was caught lying and fumbling his way through.

The obvious question that would arise in the minds of the people would be to wonder if the election result truly would have been any different had Twitter minded its business and not censored just one story that exposed the proximity of the Biden family to China and the corruption that seemingly ran deep.

The question was answered by a survey that claimed that one in six people who voted for Joe Biden would have changed their mind had they got the full information about the Hunter Biden story.

In a survey, 4.6% of Biden’s voters said they would not have selected him had they been aware of his son’s China money affair. According to a McLaughlin & Associates poll done for the Media Research Center, 36% of Biden voters were not aware of the scandal. And 13% of those said they would not have voted for Biden had they known.

While the mainstream media was equally complicit, Twitter outright censored the story, almost militantly. With the survey surfacing, it becomes clear that Twitter played a pivotal role in the outcome of the US Presidential Elections, deliberately hiding vital information about one of the candidates from the voters.

With Twitter admitting that it has a left-bias, it becomes evident that what they did, and got away with, during the US elections was only a blue-print of the times to come.

Only today, Twitter censored a Tweet by Amit Malviya, the IT cell head of the ruling party of India.

Tweet censored by Twitter

The backstory to this is rather interesting. Rahul Gandhi, the leader of Congress party had shared an image with an insinuation that the police was beating up an old farmer. While Khalistani elements have taken over the farmer protests, the opposition parties are trying to prove that the protest is still spearheaded by farmers. That apart, in this exact moment where this picture was captured, the old farmer was not being beaten up by the police.

Twitter, instead of flagging the original picture with misleading claims, flagged a ‘fact-check’ video by Amit Malviya and added the label that read ‘manipulated media’.

Of course, this label itself might not have far-reaching implications as far as any democratic process is concerned, but it is pertinent to note that this is the first time a label like this has been applied to ANY Indian Twitter handle. Several fake claims have been shared by several politicians of the Congress party and even the so-called ‘fact-checkers’ that Twitter seems to have relied on, however, none of those claims was ever flagged. With Twitter’s admitted Left-wing bias, nobody needs to wonder which side they would choose to censor and the trajectory is rather evident with the censorship of Malviya’s tweet.

The inherent control that Twitter wishes to wield over elections, as clear from their own election guidelines

In an ‘update‘ by Twitter on what steps they plan to take to ensure that elations are free and fair, there are several problematic plans that they have put into place that expose just how much power they wish to wield over information flow. Here are some excerpts and why they are problematic:

1. Twitter in its blogpost says that they have ensured that in the ‘trends for you’ page, they will only show trends with ‘added context’ where Twitter itself will add a description and a “representative tweet or article”.

Twitter election update

This clearly signals to Twitter moving from being just an intermediary and wading into editorial control. Also, Twitter can thus decide what information they choose to show when a subject is trending on Twitter. So for example, if everyone was talking about how Khalistanis had taken over the farmer protest, they could choose to plug a shoddy article from some Left-leaning portal exclusively that whitewashes the Khalistani slogans being raised.

2. They admit that they reinforced the claims that the election process is safe evenjhough the Republicans were alleging something completely different, and, more importantly, there was a legal process underway.

Twitter election update

Now, whether those claims are true or false, Twitter as an intermediary has no right to control the narrative or decide what people should or should not read. Whether there was fraud or not, is presumably for the US courts to decide. Whether to believe that fraud was done or not, is for the American people to decide after reading all the information available from both sides of the spectrum. Twitter is not an election expert, as was even pointed by Ted Cruz and therefore, it has no right to issue verdicts.

If they indulge in such blatant propaganda, in this case, Twitter is free to define the counters of any conversation that voters might want to hold. An intermediary’s job should be to ensure free and fair conversation around elections. If the left media is free to present their side, so should the ‘right’. The eventual decision on what should be believed and what should not be, should be left up to the readers and voters. However, Twitter wishes to ensure a strict hold on which direction the conversation should go.

3. Twitter admits that they slowed down the process of information dissemination

Twitter has also admitted that they slowed down the process of information dissemination.

Twitter election update

Twitter in its update has admitted that the reach of tweets reduced by 20% after they introduced their new feature. Mind you, this feature does not work with every account. It only works with accounts and tweets that Twitter deems necessary. Here too, they have assumed the role of an editor to decide which tweet’s reach should be limited and which tweet should be amplified.

4. Twitter has no plan to stop this madness

Twitter has made it exceptionally clear that they will continue to interfere in elections.

Twitter election update

It is pertinent to note that they have claimed that they will “protect integrity of election conversation” and they have done this for “many elections around the world”.

I would like to remind our readers what a recent survey found:

4.6% of Biden’s voters said they would not have selected him had they been aware of his son’s China money affair. According to a McLaughlin & Associates poll done for the Media Research Center, 36% of Biden voters were not aware of the scandal. And 13% of those said they would not have voted for Biden had they known.

This was a direct consequence of Twitter brutally suppressing this story.

It is therefore evident that Twitter has no plans to stop its interference in elections around the world. With the censorship of Tweet by Amit Malviya, the indication is rather clear – the next target is India and the central government has to be on its toes to ensure that Twitter does not censor any side, no matter how ludicrous the claim, and let democracy take its own course.

Facebook an equal participant in election interference and must be brought to its knees as well

Facebook is an equal participant in its election manipulation. We all remember the story of Cambridge Analytica and how it was manipulating user data to push voters in a particular direction.

The detailed analysis of Facebook’s policies will be saved for another article, however, it is pertinent to note who controls the dissemination of information on Facebook and who decides which pages and posts are to be censored.

The Facebook Oversight Board has been a cause of much consternation ever since it was proposed. Ultimately, when the board to regulate content on the social media platform was set up, it created quite the stir after it was revealed that 18 of the 20 members were linked to the American Billionaire and prominent Democrat donor, George Soros.

Since then, another revelation has come to light. One of the members of the Facebook Oversight Board is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist outfit banned in multiple Arab and Western countries, in addition to being a Nobel Peace Laureate. The Nobel Peace Prize does not carry much meaning at this point given the fact that Barack Obama, another winner, went on to bomb Libya into slavery apart from plunging the entire Middle-East into further chaos.

But membership of the Muslim Brotherhood does carry a lot of meaning. The Middle-East Online (MEO) reported in June that Yemeni journalist and activist Tawakkol Karman, co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, is a member of the terrorist outfit who was awarded a place in the Facebook Oversight Board in order to regulate the platform’s content.

According to the report, Tawakkol Karman was formerly a member of the Islamist Yemeni Islah Party (YIP) that was backed by the Muslim Brotherhood. She called the MB “one of the victims of official tyranny and terrorism in the region.” The MB acknowledged their ties with her and proudly congratulated her after she won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Our full report on Facebook’s Oversight Board and how it is run by people close to George Soros, who vowed to fight nationalism, and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, can be read here.

Reach of Facebook and Twitter in India – the country it plans to interfere with next

There are certain statistics that we need to look at before we understand just how detrimental censorship on social media can really be.

  1. Worldwide, Twitter has over 336 million monthly active users and 100 million daily active users.
  2. 23% of the Internet population is said to be on Twitter.
  3. Top 5 countries on Twitter accounts for 50% of overall Tweets.
  4. 2 billion Queries are served by Twitter on a daily basis.
  5. 83% of the World’s Leaders have Twitter accounts.
  6. There are 24.6% verified Journalists on Twitter.
  7. Twitter now can handle 18 quintillion user accounts.
  8. 500 million people view Twitter without logging in.

In fact, in India alone, we have over 34.4 million monthly active users on Twitter.

While the Twitter statistics are from 2019, the following Facebook statistics are from October 2020.

India has over 310 million Facebook users.

Facebook users across the world (Source: Statista)

With such a massive reach of both Facebook and Twitter, it is imperative that the government ensures that the social media giants remain intermediaries and don’t take on the roles of editors, elected representatives or even Soros-esque clandestine disruptors who want to ensure that their political ideology is enforced upon the world – by manipulation or censorship.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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