Prelims level : Polity / Governance – Internal Security Mains level : GSIII Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security
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  • 55% of sampled English Internet users were concerned that expressing their political views online could get them into trouble with the authorities, an India digital report prepared by the Reuters Institute showed.

The Past Incidents:

  • These high levels of concern could be based in part on recent events in India.
  • Since 2012 at least 17 people have been arrested for posting material that was considered offensive or threatening to a politician.

Role of Social Media:

  • As many as 68% of those surveyed identified smart phones as their main device for online news with 52% stating that they got their news from Facebook.
  • WhatsApp (52%), Instagram (26%), Twitter (18%), and Facebook Messenger (16%) were the other sources of news.
  • Online news generally (56%), and social media specifically (28%) have outpaced print (16%) as the main source of news among respondents under 35, whereas respondents over 25 still mix online and offline media to a greater extent.
  • The fact that our survey covers only English speakers with Internet access is key here; the number of people accessing news via print and television will be higher for regional language news consumer though as mobile web use spreads we expect to see this change in the years ahead.
  • Respondents overall had low trust in news overall (36%) but expressed higher levels of trust in news search (45%) and social media (34%). As many as 57% of those surveyed were worried whether the news they consumed was fake or real.

Impact of Social Media in Elections:

  • The year 2019 is a completely different animal in comparison to 2014. Social media has exploded since that time in India, spreading its roots through to rural India. It is not just benefiting the businesses, but has also proved to be a great platform for persuading and changing the mindset of a wider population.

Increase in the number of mobile phones:

  • Currently, India has about 1.2 Billion mobile phones, up from approximately 581 million in 2014. At this pace, we would have more mobile phones that the population of India by the time the elections begin.

Data becoming cheap:

  • With the entry of players like JIO, data has become extremely cheap. For less than Rs. 10/- you have 2 GB of data every day.

Penetration into Rural India:

  • As a result of this mobile revolution, mobile phones and cheap data have reached rural India as well. With a density of about
  • 94/100 users of a phone, it is quite evident that almost everyone has a mobile phone available to them.

The growth of Social Media

  • Though the internet was marketed as a way to share ideas and knowledge, it turned out
  • to be used primarily for the internet. Social media including WhatsApp has growth by 100% in rural India.

Fake News

A lie repeated many times becomes the truth

  • 90% of Smartphone users have WhatsApp
  • Propagation of information becomes way easier and cheaper than before. With multiple languages supported by these companies, language barriers do not exist anymore.

Demographic Dividend

  • The older one becomes, the tougher it is to change one’s allegiance towards a political party. The youth usually switches their stance based on the information that is received. The highest growth in social media consumption has been in this category. Hence the political parties use this demographic to their advantage.

High Unemployment/Underemployment

  • It is very easy to target this segment and brainwash accordingly which again is present on these platforms and wastes the maximum amount of time online.

Expensive IT cells

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