While India is gearing up to vote in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, social media giant Facebook is already flowing with political ads and campaign stories. Ruling party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is already leading in the political ad spend on the platform.
According to Facebook data, BJP and its affiliates account for over 50% of the total ad spend while opposition party Congress and its affiliates are at the third position after regional parties.
The governing party has already spent INR 2.37 Cr on Facebook ads as of February. The regional parties are at the second position have exhausted INR 19.8 Lakh while Congress has poured in INR 10.6 Lakh for advertisements.
Citing unnamed sources from BJP party, an ET report said that the social media platforms will account for 20%-25% of BJP’s total ad spend by the time campaigning is over.
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Mark Zuckerberg-owned Facebook has been facing a lot of criticisms around the globe for misuse of its platform for spread of fake news and influencing the public opinion ahead of elections.
In December 2018, the social media company which has been facing issues in India had announced stricter controls to keep a check on the political advertisements ahead of the elections.
Facebook had ruled that an advertiser who wants to run an ad in India related to politics will need to first confirm their identity and location along with details about who placed the ad. It also launched its online searchable Ad Library for anyone to access. This library provides information about the person or group placing the ads.
This month Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram representatives met with 31-member parliamentary panel of the Indian government on March 6. According to reports, the committee told the social media companies they cannot operate like news media without accountability.
In a bid to gain the trust of the Indian ministries, Facebook has also reportedly given a commitment to the panel that identity, location and who paid for advertisements during elections will be available on a special web page for users.
Last month, the social media giant also onboarded five new partners as a part of its third-party fact-checking programme to curb the spread of misleading and fake news.