The government has targeted Congress president Rahul Gandhi over the massive data breach involving social media giant Facebook. Addressing mediapersons on Wednesday, Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, raised question on the role of Cambridge Analytica in social media profile of the Congress president.
This comes as Facebook is facing the heat after Cambridge Analytica, a British consulting company, was accused of harvesting data of up to 50 million users without permission and using the data to help politicians, including US President Donald Trump and the Brexit campaign.
Hitting out at the Congress party and its leadership, the Union minister asked, “Will Congress party depend on data theft and manipulation to win elections? What is the role of Cambridge Analytica in social media profile of Rahul Gandhi?”
He further had a warning for Facebook, saying the government would not allow any attempt on social media to “influence India’s electoral process through undesirable means”. Prasad, however, voiced government’s support to “free exchange of ideas on social media”.
“We support free exchange of ideas on social media but any attempt by social media including Facebook of trying to influence India's electoral process through undesirable means will not be tolerated. Let Facebook note it very clearly,” said the senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader.
The minister further pointed to earlier reports of bots allegedly being used to artificially increase Rahul Gandhi’s social media following, asking “how much data of Indians have the Congress party shared with foreign firms like Cambridge Analytica”.
“This is not just a question of Congress Party’s association with a rogue data analysis firm but it is a question of free and fair elections in India and democratic values of our country,” he added.
Meanwhile, there’s uproar on social media as well over the issue with many demanding that Facebook must be boycotted over data theft. Hashtags like #DeleteFacebook and #BoycottFacebook have been circulating widely on social media platforms like Twitter.
WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton also took to Twitter asking everyone to delete Facebook. Acton tweeted, "It is time. #deletefacebook" after concerns were flagged on data privacy."