87,000 groups on WhatsApp to influence the voters
With the advent of social media and smartphones, every possible thing is now on the fingertips of the users connecting the world. Election campaigning is no different thing making extensively use of technology by the politicians to reach their target voters.
According to the recent reports, nearly 87,000 active groups aiming to influence the voters are currently on WhatsApp, the message app. This app turned out to be the most reliable and biggest social media platform to target millions with political messaging. February 2017 reports revealed by WhatsApp stated that it had over 20 crores, Monthly Active Users, whereas the company is yet to release its latest numbers which are speculated to have crossed 40 crores with around 43 crore smartphone users. "WhatsApp is now helping the political groups in circulating government policies, promoting regional violence, manipulated political news and government scams which are treated to be unofficial yet can influence a lot of voters," informed Anoop Mishra, the social media expert.
With every possible person using smartphones, the numbers will obviously keep increasing according to Hong Kong-based Counterpoint Research. With data available at ultra fewer rates by the telecom services like Reliance Jio, political parties are now seen to live stream rallies, press meets and TV debates on Facebook and YouTube to reach their target audiences in both national and international front. WhatsApp also helps to achieve maximum reach as one WhatsApp Group can have a maximum of 256 users so these 87,000 groups can reach over 2.2 crore people directly.
On the other hand, WhatsApp has taken up new initiatives to restrain these unethical activities of spreading fake news. It has launched a few awareness campaigns on digital platforms to limit the number of forwards to five. "We're pleased that the recent changes we've made to limit viral content and educate users is having an impact which was not seen before. There is more than we can and will do," said Abhijit Bose, Head of WhatsApp India.
Nasscom Foundation and Election Commission are also taking up various initiatives to curb various malfunctions with the elections fast approaching.