Since Modi’s election in 2015, platforms like Whats App and Twitter have played an increasing role in sparking communal violence, especially against Muslims and Dalits in northern India.
Two infamous incidents are the “Dadri Mob Lynching” in 2015 and the “Kathua Rape Case” in 2018.
According to Social Media Hoax Slayer founder Pankaj Jain, “Most of our population from the villages, or with access to cheap data but no formal education are users of Whats App.” Pratik Sinha, founder of fact-checking website Alt News, agrees, saying, “There is a huge section of the population whose internet literacy is close to nil and who do not know what to believe.
They are being fed with rumors.” Dadri and Kathua The speed and ease with which social media spreads rumors has aggravated communal violence outbreaks since 2014, including the “Dadri Mob Lynching” in 2015 and the “Kathua Rape Case” in 2018.
It's no coincidence that the evolution of the BJP and the popularity of television both occurred in the 1980s and 1990s.
Television in India collapsed the diverse regional definitions and practices of Hinduism into the single unified version people gathered around to watch on TV shows.In Dadri, the police blamed the unrest on “a hate campaign [that] was launched at two levels: first ‘Chinese whispers,’ then rumour-mongering through Whats App and Twitter in local villages.” Many of the videos in these incidents revolved around alleged cow slaughter or cow meat storage and consumption by Muslims.Because the cow is sacred in Hinduism, the majority religion in India, the killing of cows is even outlawed in some Indian States like Uttar Pradesh (UP).Facebook and Twitter were introduced to India in 2006.By 2017, India had the second-largest Facebook audience in the world with the largest number of mobile users at some 112 million.Examining these cases gives insights into how the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) successfully uses and manipulates social media for their own gains.Modi as a Social Media Candidate The ruling BJP, led by Narendra Modi, has championed social media since 2014 when the party successfully utilized such platforms to win the election.In fact, Modi’s 2014 election was met with an avalanche of think pieces and headlines like “Narendra Modi to be India’s First Social Media Prime Minister” in the wrote, “PM Modi has managed – directly or indirectly – to make social media the main engagement platform.Almost all his cabinet colleagues and their ministries have active Twitter and Facebook profiles, which actively engage with followers.” Modi himself attributed some of his success to an ability to “talk to the people.” He wrote in a blog post right before the 2014 vote, “This is the first election where social media has assumed an important role and the importance of this medium will only increase in the years to come.Then, the videos started showing up on his Facebook feed.He saw a post from Gau Seva Trust, an organization "launched by individuals who are helping ill cows," followed it, and started receiving regular updates.