Fest of memes: Parties look at influencers to create false narratives in Karnataka

As demands for increased scrutiny grow within political circles, the debate over regulating social media’s influence on elections has also intensified.
Dubbed ‘new strategy’ and an extended form of their ‘IT cells’, the creation of false narratives on social media can sway voters significantly.
Dubbed ‘new strategy’ and an extended form of their ‘IT cells’, the creation of false narratives on social media can sway voters significantly.(Representative image)

MYSURU: In the run-up to the general election, political parties are expanding their outreach strategies to target younger demographics though social media platforms like Instagram and X.

Alongside conventional methods like advertisements and publicity materials, there’s a growing trend among parties to harness the reach of memes, troll pages and social media influencers to shape public opinion and secure votes.

Dubbed ‘new strategy’ and an extended form of their ‘IT cells’, the creation of false narratives on social media can sway voters significantly, especially when troll pages and influencers with large followings are allegedly being paid substantial amounts without adequate oversight.

However, this approach has sparked controversy, as well as calls for stricter monitoring by election authorities, since the lack of monitoring raises concerns about the potential impact of misleading information on voter decision-making.

As demands for increased scrutiny grow within political circles, the debate over regulating social media’s influence on elections has also intensified.

Mohammed Zaibulla Khan, attorney, Deshak Law Reigns, said, “In a bid to pocket the votes of youth and ‘Gen-Z’ voters coming into the foray this time, political parties are leaving no stone unturned in turning this ‘festival of democracy’ into a ‘festival of memes’ in a bid to reach the youth voters of the country, who come in staggeringly game changing percentages.

It is high time for some amendments in the form of insertion of new provisos in the Representation of People’s Act which would impose strict restrictions in the event of hiring of “influencers” and using meme pages to push political agendas, non-compliance of which must result in grave repercussions.”

However, he said taking into consideration the democratical aspects, there can be no restrictions on meme page admins posting or pushing political material in their individual capacity on their personal profiles, but not subtly in exchange for consideration on the platform they built to attract traffic for ‘fun’ and ‘entertainment’ purposes, as is typically spelt out very particularly on their meme-page profiles.

Meanwhile, an admin of a meme page, who did not wish to reveal his identity, said a few of his peers are looking for prospective politicians who can fund them for such posts, which they claim is not at all unethical.

“Creation, ideology and selling creative posts for money are three different aspects and should not be mixed up. While content creation is merely for entertainment purpose, selling them to viewers after taking money, especially as it can impact youngsters, is not acceptable. But there are many social media influencers who have already started posting such contents on social media platforms and are urging others as well to accept such offers by political parties,” he said.

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