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Prasad warns FB of strong action if it sways electoral process

By The Assam Tribune
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New Delhi, Mar 21 (PTI): India on Wednesday warned social media platforms like Facebook of 'strong action' if any attempt was made by them to influence the country's electoral process through undesirable means.

Amid probe by US privacy watchdog over a potential breach of user confidentiality by Facebook, IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government fully supports freedom of press, speech and expression and is for exchange of ideas on social media. But any attempt by social media sites, including Facebook, to influence India's electoral process through undesirable means will not be tolerated, he told reporters in Parliament House complex.

"If need be, strong action will be taken," he said.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), an independent government body charged with ensuring that companies abide by their own privacy policies, is looking at whether Facebook violated a 2011 consent decree after media reports alleged that it had handed the data of millions of users to a political consultancy.

Reports had alleged that Cambridge Analytica used data mined from Facebook in the voter research it conducted for President Donald Trump during the 2016 elections campaign.

Prasad alleged that Congress party had links with Cambridge Analytica. "My question to Congress party is whether to win elections, Congress will depend on data manipulation and theft of data," he said. "What is the role of Cambridge Analytica in social media profile of Rahul Gandhi," he asked.

He alleged that Cambridge Analytica, the agency roped in by Congress to run their 2019 campaign and termed as their 'Brahmastra' in certain section of media, is accused of using bribes, sex workers to entrap politicians and stealing data from Facebook.

It is time, Facebook: WhatsApp co-founder: Meanwhile, according to another report from New York, WhatsApp messaging service co-founder has urged users to "delete" Facebook amid a massive data harvesting scandal in which information of 50 million people was leaked allegedly to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton left Facebook in September last year and joined a foundation.

"It is time. #deletefacebook," CNN quoted Acton as saying.

Acton co-founded WhatsApp with Jan Koum which was acquired by Facebook in February, 2014 for USD 19 billion.

Momentum gathered behind the #DeleteFacebook campaign, with several media outlets publishing guides to permanently deleting your Facebook account, CNN reported.

The backlash has spooked investors, leading shares in the company to fall by more than 9 per cent over the last two days wiping almost USD 50 billion off the valuation of the company, the report said.

Meanwhile in the UK, MPs summoned Facebook's chief executive Mark Zuckerberg to give evidence to a select committee investigating fake news.

UK's Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham earlier said she would be applying to court for a warrant to search the offices of Cambridge Analytica the UK-based political consulting firm accused of using the data of 50 million Facebook members to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

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Prasad warns FB of strong action if it sways electoral process

New Delhi, Mar 21 (PTI): India on Wednesday warned social media platforms like Facebook of 'strong action' if any attempt was made by them to influence the country's electoral process through undesirable means.

Amid probe by US privacy watchdog over a potential breach of user confidentiality by Facebook, IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government fully supports freedom of press, speech and expression and is for exchange of ideas on social media. But any attempt by social media sites, including Facebook, to influence India's electoral process through undesirable means will not be tolerated, he told reporters in Parliament House complex.

"If need be, strong action will be taken," he said.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), an independent government body charged with ensuring that companies abide by their own privacy policies, is looking at whether Facebook violated a 2011 consent decree after media reports alleged that it had handed the data of millions of users to a political consultancy.

Reports had alleged that Cambridge Analytica used data mined from Facebook in the voter research it conducted for President Donald Trump during the 2016 elections campaign.

Prasad alleged that Congress party had links with Cambridge Analytica. "My question to Congress party is whether to win elections, Congress will depend on data manipulation and theft of data," he said. "What is the role of Cambridge Analytica in social media profile of Rahul Gandhi," he asked.

He alleged that Cambridge Analytica, the agency roped in by Congress to run their 2019 campaign and termed as their 'Brahmastra' in certain section of media, is accused of using bribes, sex workers to entrap politicians and stealing data from Facebook.

It is time, Facebook: WhatsApp co-founder: Meanwhile, according to another report from New York, WhatsApp messaging service co-founder has urged users to "delete" Facebook amid a massive data harvesting scandal in which information of 50 million people was leaked allegedly to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton left Facebook in September last year and joined a foundation.

"It is time. #deletefacebook," CNN quoted Acton as saying.

Acton co-founded WhatsApp with Jan Koum which was acquired by Facebook in February, 2014 for USD 19 billion.

Momentum gathered behind the #DeleteFacebook campaign, with several media outlets publishing guides to permanently deleting your Facebook account, CNN reported.

The backlash has spooked investors, leading shares in the company to fall by more than 9 per cent over the last two days wiping almost USD 50 billion off the valuation of the company, the report said.

Meanwhile in the UK, MPs summoned Facebook's chief executive Mark Zuckerberg to give evidence to a select committee investigating fake news.

UK's Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham earlier said she would be applying to court for a warrant to search the offices of Cambridge Analytica the UK-based political consulting firm accused of using the data of 50 million Facebook members to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

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