Russians will be voting in Indian elections, warns US author; says Facebook needs to be made accountable

The American national investigation agency FBI is currently probing both Trump's personal involvement in Russian meddling and also Moscow's role in the polls.

Published: 21st February 2019 11:51 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th March 2019 02:43 PM   |  A+A-

Thomas_Friedman_photo

American columnist and author Thomas Friedman (Photo | Thomas Friendman/ Twitter)

By PTI

MUMBAI: Award-winning American columnist and author Thomas Friedman has warned Indians about the possible meddling of Russia in the upcoming elections through unregulated media like Facebook, exactly the way they did to the detriment of the US in the 2016 presidential polls.

President Vladimir Putin will be "voting" in the summer general elections, the author of the book The World is Flat said here Thursday.

"If you (Indians) think they (Russians) will not be playing in your elections, you are not paying attention. Believe me, Putin will be voting in your election," Friedman said speaking at an annual Nasscom summit here.

The noted political thinker and author also accused Facebook of "fundamentally violating the trust" that got the US a president like Donald Trump.

When a country like the US, which is a champion of liberal thoughts, talks about building border walls and chooses to "go into the dark", it impacts the whole world, the three-time Pulitzer Prize winner said, adding Trump's imprint through his policies is spreading "venom and poison" across the world.

The comments come in the light of accusations of Russians using social media platforms like Facebook to spread fake news among the American electorate, which resulted in the surprise defeat of Hillary Clinton and the victory of Trump in the November 2016 polls.

The American national investigation agency FBI is currently probing both Trump's personal involvement in Russian meddling and also Moscow's role in the polls.

Similarly, the British also launched a probe against Moscow after it has come to light that the Brexit referendum too was manipulated by Russia using social media.

ALSO READ | Political ads on Facebook to carry labels offering information on advertiser

Two years ago, the British in a thin margin of 52 percent voted to leave the EU by March this year.

Friedman said a platform like Facebook has deep insights, courtesy a massive invasion of individual privacy, and said its essential for entrepreneurs to know constitutional morality along with computer codes.

"Mark Zuckerburg did computer coding in college but did not take a constitutional course in the college. He extended the Facebook platform all over the world without thinking about the privacy or election implications. And we are now paying the price for that," Friedman said.

He further said a newspaper like The New York Times, for which he writes, is strictly regulated, unlike a Facebook which revels at zero oversight.

Facebook, however, wants newspapers advertisers and readers, without the regulation over things like fake news, he said, calling it as a fundamental violation of trust.

ALSO READ |Facebook vied to conceal Russia meddling in 2016 US presidential election: New York Times report

When asked about the growth of India and China, he said both the countries have their own strengths.

Drawing parallels with a super-highway, he said China has a smooth road with an uncertainty lurking on the political front, where rights are trampled on.

As against this, in India, the journey is very bumpy with a lot of hindrances in between but far on the horizon is something that kindles optimism.

"Whether it is a mirage or an oasis only time will tell," he said, adding the way India has stuck to democracy for so long and how a land of 1.34 billion people votes in a largely free and fair election is nothing but a "miracle".

He said the lack of natural resources is India's biggest strength, which results in all the people being forced to use their minds and work extra.

Stay up to date on all the latest Nation news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp