How Indian Journalists Mislead Voters Using Social Media Data
By Rakesh Raman
You must not blame Indian journalists if they throw crap on your face in the name of news. They’re, in fact, trained only for this dirty job. And they have been doing it remarkably for decades. In India, journalism is a profession for the fuddy-duddy.
Without understanding the ABCs of social media – that is still an enigma for even digital media experts – the Indian journalists are frequently using Facebook and Twitter data to build hype around certain politicians. And, in the process, they’re misleading the Indian voters who are equally naïve in all fields that demand certain wisdom. Technology is an alien term for most in India.
These days, Indian media is wasting most of its time on counting the Twitter followers for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor, among other politicians who have their social media accounts.
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While ranking the Indian politicians on the basis of their Facebook and Twitter followers, the journalists fail to report that such followers are openly being sold all across the Web at the rate of peanuts. The online outfits that sell these fake followers also use attractive subject lines like “Cheap Facebook Fans” in their promotional emails sent to potential buyers who want to increase the number of their virtual links by hook or by crook.
Their rates can be as low as $230 for 10,000 Facebook page Likes and just $60 for 10,000 Twitter followers. A Google search on “fake facebook and twitter followers” showed more than 25 million results (pictured below). This shows that the Indian journalists are so dumb that they can’t use even a simple utility like search engine properly to know about this straight truth. Then how do you expect them to understand social media, which is a complex field?
The practice of buying fake Facebook Likes and Twitter followers is considered highly unethical. But anything unethical suits Indian politicians most of whom are well-known crooks and thrive on their ability to cheat the public – and also the lamentably illiterate journalists. If these politicians can illegally buy votes, why won’t they buy fake social media followers?
[ Also Read: How World Leaders Use Twitter for Good Governance ]
It’s not only about the phony followers, you can also buy cheap comments for your social media pages. For example, you’d have seen many Facebook pages littered with useless comments such as “LOL,” “True,” “Very true,” “Ha…ha,” “Hee…hee,” and so on. Ironically, politicians and celebs show these fictitious comments as their popularity and hoodwink the hoi polloi.
Partly because of their lack of knowledge and partly because of their usual unprofessional way of working, Indian journalists are playing hand in glove with these cheat politicians to mislead the voters. Journalists are projecting their favorite leaders as social media stars and building a false political wave in their favor before the Lok Sabha elections scheduled for 2014.
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Now, it’s a known fact that Indian journalists work in a highly irresponsible manner. Justice Markandey Katju, chairman of the Press Council of India (a statutory body set up to govern the conduct of the print and broadcast media), said Indian journalists are working against the national interests, they aggravate communal tension with their wrong reporting, they’re intellectually weak, and so on. (Read: Why Justice Katju Hates Indian Journalists)
Katju is right. And when these journalists don’t understand the basics of traditional media, they can’t understand the subtleties of new media or digital media. (Read: Can You be a Hindu or a Muslim Journalist?)
Now, to add confusion to the chaos, the leading political parties have set up their tech cells, which are run by novices for whom technology and social media is a kind of Tower of Babel. They’re roped in by journalists to express their views and promote their political interests by using false social media data.
Public should simply ignore them because the entire social media business is based on falsehood. You can buy false followers and you can follow the I-Follow-You-If-You-Follow-Me barter model to get unreal connections.
Facebook is at the forefront of this false social movement. Among myriad other flaws on its site, Facebook claims that it has over 1 billion monthly active users. But this is a blatant lie. The actual users on Facebook are not even a fraction of this number. (Read: Mr. Mark, I Am Fed Up with Your Facebook)
Today’s freewheeling social media hangouts are used by some idle junkies or gullible journalists. The wise would stay away from them instead of becoming a part of this unruly virtual world. And those who want to do some good to the Indian politics – which is going from bad to worse – should never trust the canards being spread on or about social media. Jai Hind.