Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday reacted to reports of Facebook data theft by a firm known as Cambridge Analytica and allegations of the Congress connection to it. Taking to Twitter, Gandhi termed the entire row as an ‘invented story’ to deviate people’s attention from the killing of 39 Indians by ISIS in Iraq.
“Problem: 39 Indians dead; Govt on the mat, caught lying. Solution: Invent story on Congress & Data Theft. Result: Media networks bite bait; 39 Indians vanish from radar. Problem solved,” Gandhi tweeted.
A major row erupted on Wednesday when the BJP and Congress traded charges over hiring the services of controversial data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica. While the BJP accused Congress of “data theft” to woo voters ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the opposition party hit back alleging that the “BJP’s factory of fake news has produced one more fake product”. The Congress further accused BJP of hiring the services of the firm’s Indian arm in several elections, including in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
The war of words between the Congress and the BJP began after Facebook’s admission last week that Cambridge Analytica used data that had been collected from 50 million users without their consent. Taking charge for the BJP, its chief spokesperson and Union law and information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad cited several media reports which claimed that the company would work for Congress chief Rahul Gandhi ahead of the next Lok Sabha polls. Prasad further asked Gandhi how many times the Congress chief had met Cambridge’s now sacked CEO Alexander Nix.
Problem: 39 Indians dead; Govt on the mat, caught lying.
Solution: Invent story on Congress & Data Theft.
Result: Media networks bite bait; 39 Indians vanish from radar.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) March 22, 2018
Addressing a press conference later yesterday, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra claimed that illegal use of people’s data from social media could turn out to be the Congress’ “biggest scam”. He added that the government would launch a probe into the matter. “Stealing data from social media is your (Congress) weapon. Cambridge Analytica is now ‘Congress Analytica’,” Patra alleged.
Prasad further said that the company has been accused of using “sex, sleaze and fake news” to influence elections and asked if the Congress planned to influence voters the same way. Prasad also asked Gandhi to explain the company’s role in his social media outreach. Congress, however, categorically rejected the allegations and said neither his party nor its president has used or hired the services of Cambridge Analytica.