"I urge the government to put an end to the systematic influence and interference of Facebook and other social media giants in the electoral politics of the world's largest democracy. This is beyond partisan politics. We need to protect our democracy and social harmony regardless of who is in power," Congress President Sonia Gandhi said in the parliament on March 16. Gandhi made this remark with reference to the recent investigative reports by The Reporters' Collective and Al Jazeera that allege Facebook gave an unfair advantage to the ruling BJP party in election ads. "The Reporters’ Collective analysed data of more than five lakh political advertisements placed on Facebook and Instagram between February 2019 and November 2020 to assess the influence of Facebook’s political advertising policies on elections in India. We found that in those 22 months, which saw the high-octane 2019 national election and nine state elections, Facebook’s advertising platform systematically undercut political competition in the world's largest electoral democracy, giving unfair advantage to the BJP over its competitors. They did this by allowing surrogate or ghost advertisements worth millions of rupees favouring BJP and cracking down on similar ads from the Congress. Facebook also promoted BJP’s advertisements at a substantially lower price than the Congress’s, helping BJP reach more voters for less money." – The Reporters' Collective What did The Reporters' Collective find? The Reporters' Collective has so far published a four-part series alleging the following: 1. Reliance-funded firm boosts BJP’s campaigns on Facebook A Facebook page called NEWJ…
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