Europe meeting warns against digital information manipulation in India

London, November 11 (KMS): European parliamentarians and officials have warned against the capacity of social media users in India to manipulate the digital information environment for political and ideological propaganda.

The warning was made by the experts at a briefing moderated by Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Marketa Gregorova streamed online. The session, entitled ‘Taking Stock of India’s Information Manipulation Ecosystem’ and co-hosted by diaspora-led think-tank Stichting The London Story, was attended by members of the European Parliament, the European Commission and experts at the UK’s Home Office and others, as per a press release.

Marketa Gregorova, a member of Greens and the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes in the European Union said, while digital India plans to bring more Indian citizens online, first time internet users are easy to fall prey to political scams and clever lies. We must consider the implications this has for how the largest democracy in the world should navigate digitalisation, she said.

Facebook whistleblower Sophie Zhang, Chief Data Analyst of the London Story Saikat Chatterjee, senior correspondent at BOOM Archis Chowdhury, doctoral researcher Vignesh Karthik and Vihang Jumle were among the other speakers at the event.

Looking ahead, the panel expressed concern about future trends in India’s information manipulation ecosystem.

Zhang said India is undergoing a troll farm arms race and warning that neither the Indian government nor social media platforms have taken adequate steps to address information manipulation in India.

She said, “Elon Musk will not pay attention to things in India. Additionally, most governments are only interested in what is happening in their own countries. It is unlikely there will be any action on India.”

Saikat Chatterjee said, as the EU is seeking closer collaborations with India, we are investigating the capacity of India’s information manipulation ecosystem to spread disinformation and hate speech, and its potential impact on democracies around the world.

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