Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal: In wake of the huge row that has erupted over the huge data breach involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, the Election Commission of India, that partnered up with Facebook back in 2017, is now re-evaluating the relationship it has with the social media platform. The EC has said that it may review its association with Facebook following the disclosure of the massive data breach and its possible connection with polls last week. The exploitation of the data has influenced polls across the world including the US Presidential Election that Donald Trump won.
According to The Indian Express, Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat said that the partnership between EC and Facebook to encourage enrollment of young voters will soon be discussed at a Commission meeting. He said, “We will be considering this issue in its entire dimension in the Commission meeting.” The meeting may take place either on Friday or early in the next week. When asked if the commission was concerned over allegations of data being harvested to build psychological profiles of voters to influence them, the CEC said, “Definitely. Something which can affect the election arena in an adverse manner, like public opinion being moulded. this should concern us and we will take a view on this.”
Back in 2017, the Election Commission of India partnered with Facebook to launch the first nationwide voter registration reminder. Starting from July 1 till July 4, 2017, the voter registration reminder was sent to people eligible to vote on Facebook in India. The reminder sent was in 13 Indian languages- English, Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi, Bengali, Urdu, Assamese, Marathi and Oriya. It was during this period that the ‘Register Now’ button was available to over 180 million people in India on Facebook, in order to encourage citizens to register with the ECI.
Dr.Nasim Zaidi, the then CEC, Election Commission of India, had then stated, “I am pleased to announce that the Election Commission of India is going to launch a ‘Special Drive to enrol left out electors, with a particular focus on first-time electors. This is a step towards fulfilment of the motto of ECI that ‘NO VOTER TO BE LEFT BEHIND’. As part of this campaign, on 1st July, 2017, Facebook will run a voter registration reminder in multiple Indian languages to all the Facebook users in India. I urge all eligible citizens to enrol and VOTE i.e. Recognize your Right and Perform your Duty. I am sure this initiative will strengthen Election Commission of India’s enrolment campaign and encourage future voters to participate in the Electoral Process and become responsible Citizens of India.”