Let my stern warning be heard across the Atlantic: Ravi Shankar Prasad on Facebook data breach

WION Web Team Delhi, India Mar 21, 2018, 10.26 AM(IST)

File photo of Ravi Shankar Prasad. Photograph:( ANI )

India today reacted on reports of social media giant Facebook's alleged involvement in the misuse of users' private data. Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad broke his silence on the issue stating that India will not permit or tolerate any attempt to misuse social media. 

"Any covert or overt attempt to misuse social media including Facebook to influence India's electoral process through undesirable means will neither be tolerated nor be permitted," the minister noted. 

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Prasad further added that "abuse of social media including Facebook cannot be allowed to impact the fairness of elections."

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"In the wake of recent data theft from Facebook, let my stern warning be heard across the Atlantic, far away in California," the minister exclaimed. 

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Prasad also accused the Congress Party of having ties with data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica.   

"What link does Cambridge Analytica have with social media management of Rahul Gandhi and Congress Party? Will the Congress Party now depend upon data manipulation and data theft to win elections?" Prasad lashed out. 

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The minister also claimed that there were reports of use of bots to artificially increase the social media following of Rahul Gandhi in recent time. 

Ravi Shankar Prasad cited media reports about the opposition party's plan to use the firm's services for the next Lok Sabha elections and to boost its president Rahul Gandhi's profile. He asked Rahul Gandhi to explain the company's role in his social media outreach.

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The firm, the Union minister said, has been accused of using "sex, sleaze and fake news" to influence elections and asked if the Congress too plans to walk the same path.

"The Congress must explain if it has engaged in data trade with Cambridge Analytica," he said, questioning the opposition party's "silence" despite numerous reports of its link with the company.

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Targeting the Congress, he said the number of Gandhi's Twitter followers had shot up recently and wondered if it was due to the services of the firm that he achieved this "fake popularity".