As per reports, the infamous Cambridge Analytica had, back in October 2017, met with the senior leaders of Congress over a probable deal for the 2019 elections.
Cambridge Analytica came into the foray a few weeks back as an ex-employee spoke to the media about how the company used the data from the members of Facebook for the USA Presidential elections. Since the reports came out, both the parties BJP and Congress have pointed the finger at each other as having taken help of the firm. Neither has accepted the charges.
However, now, sources say that senior Congress leaders Jairam Ramesh, P Chidambaram and the Congress President Rahul Gandhi (was the Vice President back in October 2017) met with the organization. Cambridge Analytica presented them with a proposal about how they can help Congress fight the 2019 assembly elections with the help of data mining and data procured from the Facebook users. The proposal, however, was not accepted. Among the reasons cited for the rejection is that the party feared that it was, in fact, the right-wing members of the opposition parties who were trying to infiltrate Congress.
Cambridge Analytica had provided Congress with a detailed plan about how they were ‘global leaders in behavior change’ clearly stating the process of influencing the public with the use of the public’s private data. A budget of $3,89,460 (Rs. 2,55,73,890.90) was mentioned in the proposal. The proposal mentions in detail the state by state break up of election approaches.
Here is the response from the party’s data analytics head Praveen Chakravarthy. “The Congress party has not engaged Cambridge Analytica or any of its subsidiaries for any election campaigns. This has been reiterated multiple times in the past. There is simply no need for the Congress party to obfuscate on this matter. It is plain and simple – the party has not worked with the said firm. As regards receiving proposals, the Congress party, by virtue of its standing as a strong national party, receives many proposals from many firms regularly, pitching their services.”
It is a well-known fact that one of the main reasons why Congress lost the 2014 elections was their lack of social reach and marketing. BJP’s IT cell has had an enhanced reach to the masses which has helped them have a better reach. Social media has played a huge role in public elections throughout the world and India was not and will not be any different. It is also clear that our data on the internet is not at all safe. The events of Cambridge Analytica have shown us the vulnerabilities of the social media and how it is used effectively by the parties.
It remains to be seen just how influential the word of the net would prove to be.
Here is a report on the same by NDTV