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‘HuffPost’ has claimed that BJP is running a propaganda through a private company based in Jaipur

HuffPost (formerly The Huffington Post) is an American news and opinion website and blog, with localised and international editions. The magazine is edited from a liberal political perspective. It was founded in 2005 by Andrew BreitbartArianna HuffingtonKenneth Lerer and Jonah Peretti. In 2012, The Huffington Post became the first commercially run United States digital media enterprise to win a Pulitzer Prize.

Recently, ‘HuffPost’ has claimed that BJP is running a propaganda on What’s App through a private company based in Jaipur. We the people at NLC will introduce you to the post of HuffPost claiming BJP of running an agenda through paid sources.

Here is the post line by line:

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been using a Jaipur-based private company, Sarv Webs Pvt Ltd, to push political propaganda through mass-messages on WhatsAppHuffPost India can confirm.

This could be a violation of Indian election norms, although lawyers say it is a grey area. HuffPost India spoke to Raman Chima, Asia Policy Director and Senior International Counsel at Access Now, an international non-profit, human rights, public policy, and advocacy group dedicated to an open and free Internet.

“If it’s advertising media pushed to people who didn’t sign up for it, it might potentially infringe the guidelines,” said Chima. “But not if it’s a service that people have opted into. Generally, this is a somewhat unclear area.” HuffPost India has written to the Election Commission for more information and will update this copy if the commission responds.

While newspapers have previously reported on WhatsApp groups run by BJP “volunteers”, HuffPost India can establish that the party is also using paid private vendors to run its social channels.

This has allowed the BJP to run covert, highly targeted campaigns aimed at specific groups, sliding into the inboxes of voters hours before they step out to vote.

HuffPost India established this link by triangulating BJP campaign expenditure statements submitted to the Election Commission of India, where the BJP said it paid ‘Sarv Web Pvt Ltd’ Rs 23,60,000 for messaging and voice services during the 2017 Gujarat campaign, interviews with a serving Sarv employee who confirmed that the company is still working with the BJP, screenshots shared by a source on the condition of anonymity, and Sarv’s own declaration on its website where the company said it works with the BJP for “improving information flow to mass scale”.

Given that WhatsApp messages are encrypted, there is no way for WhatsApp or anyone outside these groups — including the Election Commission of India — to monitor the content of these messages.

Sarv and the BJP did not respond to a HuffPost India email seeking comment. In an email, WhatsApp characterised such behaviour as abusive and said the platform removes over two million accounts per month for bulk or automated behaviour.

“Attempting to distribute content en masse on WhatsApp requires users to work around the design of our platform. Doing so exhibits signals that we use to identify abusive accounts,” the company said.

“When we are confident that an account is abusive, we ban the account from WhatsApp altogether. We then use the information available to us to reverse engineer past behavior to prevent similar abuse in the future.”

Whatsapp’s efforts to curb bulk-messaging, the company said, “are particularly important during elections where certain groups may attempt to send messages at scale.”  

This case, where the “certain groups” in question happens to be India’s ruling party, illustrates the challenge facing Facebookand WhatsApp, its subsidiary, in attempts to curb the viral transmission of fake news and propaganda on its platforms. 

Read the full article at: BJP Exposed

So, HuffPost has charged BJP of running a propaganda through a private limited company based in Jaipur. How far can you hear the running propaganda running on Indian televisions?

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