With election season set in already, it is pertinent to note that social media platform WhatsApp is fast becoming a tool for the political parties to woo voters in countries like India.
Widely used in India, its role was felt in the recently concluded Karnataka’s assembly poll.
One of the reason why it is so popular with the political parties is that while many messages were ordinary campaign missives, some were intended to inflame sectarian tensions and others were downright false.
That the origins of the messages cannot easily be traced is also prominent reason for its popularity.
It is often alleged that gory videos are circulated by one or the other political parties to spread ill about the rival parties and thus it often influences voters.
The role that WhatsApp plays in influencing voters has received far less attention than that of its sister services, Facebook and its photo-sharing platform, Instagram.
The fact that both Facebook and Instagram have come under intense scrutiny in recent months for how Russian agents used them to manipulate US voters in the 2016 presidential election.
But as smartphone use in India has exploded over the past year-and-a-half, WhatsApp became the country’s default communication mode – and the preferred medium for distributing campaign messages.>