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Can social media impact LS polls? Govt doesn't think so!

Last updated on: April 19, 2013 08:36 IST

Can social media impact LS polls? Govt doesn't think so!

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A study shows that Facebook and Twitter could have an influence in at least 160 Lok Sabha seats triggering a debate but two senior Union ministers -- Manish Tewari (information and broadcasting) and Kapil Sibal (information technology and telecom) -- disagree.

With the next general elections due in an year's time, a study carried out by Internet and Mobile Association of India and IRIS Knowledge Foundation showed that social media such as Facebook and Twitter are likely to influence at least 160 Lok Sabha constituencies out of a total 543.

Of the 160 High Impact Constituencies, the study said Maharashtra (21) and Gujarat (17) were high on the list followed by Uttar Pradesh (14), Karnataka and Tamil Nadu (12 each), Andhra Pradesh (11), Kerala (10) and Mahdya Pradesh (9) with the remaining being accounted by a few other states.

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'Voting preferences are decided on issues'

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Sibal and Tewari today said voting preferences in a complex country like India is decided on issues and considerations more than anything else.

"I tend to disagree with the suggestion that social media will influence the outcome in the 160 seats. The fact remains that voting preferences are decided on issues. Mediums and platforms are only methods of disseminating your views," Tewari said.

Supporting him, Sibal said, "India is such a complex country and to say that a platform will decided the outcome in these constituency, I do feel it difficult because these constituencies are spread across the country. The voter looks at several aspects."

They were speaking at the launch of a digital newspaper in Delhi -- enewspaper of india of BAG network.

The study identified 67 constituencies as Medium Impact ones, while the rest have been identified as Low Impact or No Impact constituencies.

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Image: Union I&b Minister Manish Tewari

Tags: Sibal , Tewari , BAG , Delhi , India

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'Social media being used for spread of terrorism'

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"High Impact Constituencies are those where the number of Facebook users are more than the margin of victory of the winner in the last Lok Sabha election, or where Facebook users account for over 10 per cent of the voting population," the report said.

The corresponding numbers are 60 out of 543 in the Low Impact category and the remaining 256 in the No Impact category.

According to the report, the Medium Impact constituencies are those where it has been assumed that a Facebook user can influence one other voter, who may not be on Facebook.

Medium Impact Constituencies have the total number of Facebook users in excess of 5 per cent of the eligible voters.

Social media is also being used for spreading terrorism and drug trafficking but the government is unable to take action because identity of perpetrators of such acts is not known, Sibal also said.

"Take drug trafficking, take terrorism....There are lot of things that is happening through social media. Now we want to go after somebody....We cannot because the identity of person is not before us," Sibal said at launch of digital newspaper of BAG Network.


Image: Union IT and Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal


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