19th May 2020

12-month recap: Indian WhatsApp Election

Summary

In our penultimate #MinistryOfTechnocracy mini-series blog post, we take a look at how a political party in India used digital platform WhatsApp as a vehicle to win an election.

Could social media platforms really shape India’s political future? Last year, India’s Bharatuya Janata party used WhatsApp to wage one of the world’s most sophisticated digital political campaigns to date.

Kieran Proctor Apprentice Junior Developer

Indian WhatsApp Election

Despite being an emerging and developing country, internet access is surging in India, as is the proliferation of smartphones and cheap data, leading to more than 300 million users on WhatsApp. This development in technology saw a huge shift in the way political parties campaigned to the masses, having traditionally promoted their campaigns via TV or large rallies.

Naturally in this case, there are concerns as to whether WhatsApp is just a conduit for fake news. In recent years, parent company Facebook has been in the headlines with claims that Russia manipulated the US election of Donald Trump through the use of Facebook campaigns that spread misinformation to sway votes. However, WhatsApp uses an encryption system that is impenetrable to even the company itself.

Fast forward 12 months and the move to use new technology as opposed to traditional methods has seen similar tactics used in Brazil, Russia and China however, in 2020, there are still concerns over the tactics political parties are using to reach potential voters. Which begs the question, what could happen in another 12 months time?

Next up: In the last of our 12-month recap of emerging technologies, we take a look at self driving cars…

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