This Election Season, Say Goodbye to Social Media!

Ever since the 2016 presidential elections in the USA, the role of social media in influencing voter choices has become a hot topic across the globe. The recently released Mueller Report clearly holds Russia responsible for manipulating US voters through the extensive use of social media, like Facebook and Google, thereby ensuring the victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, who was the frontrunner in the race.

The fallout of the US elections has been that governments around the globe have brought social media apps under the scanner and have started demanding not only more information about their users, but have also been pressing for a change in some of their operating practices. WhatsApp, for example, has been forced to fact-check messages and remove malicious and fake material; individuals who mass-forward messages have been identified and banned; and administrators of groups have been warned to monitor content or face the music.

The sheer amount of material available on social media is overwhelming and it will take an army of monitors to check and remove the fake and objectionable material. Facebook, for example, has a whole operation in the Philippines whose only job is to constantly check social media sites and remove material which do not meet ethical standards. By Facebook’s own admission, these monitors eliminate less than 5% of such content; and a sad outcome is that many of the monitors themselves get traumatised after viewing the vile nature of the messages coursing the digital waves. It is becoming harder for Facebook to find candidates fit for the job of an internet monitor.

In my opinion, however, there is a silver lining in all the fake news floating around the internet. The more such ‘news’ is found to be malicious and deceitful, the more people will cease to rely on social media, and isn’t that for the good?

As voters in an election, it is far better to rely on one’s own judgment than to allow others’ opinion to influence you.

Those of you who have not cast your vote yet, think carefully about the candidates in the race, research them well, and come to your own conclusion about the best local and national leaders who can take your country forward in every aspect – economic, social and ethical.

Once you get away from all the rubbish floating on social media and start relying on reason and intellect to cast your ballot, the choice will be crystal clear.

Good luck and happy voting!

About the Author: Tarun Pasricha (Associate Professor & Deputy Director – Undergraduate Programs)

Dr Tarun Pasricha is a “Second Career Academic”. He has 25 years of corporate experience in major multinationals in India including ITC, Pepsi, Dr. Scholl’s & Boots Healthcare. In terms of industry expertise, his experience encompasses FMCG, Tobacco, Food & Beverages, Footwear, OTC & Rx Pharmaceuticals. His functional responsibilities progressed from Sales & Marketing to General Management in India; and to international Business Development in other parts of Asia, notably Thailand, Hong Kong & China. He was involved in several start-up operations in India and has hands-on experience in heading 2 joint ventures as Managing Director/Country Manager.

Since August 2017, Dr Pasricha has taken up a full-time faculty position in the Marketing & Strategy area with SP Jain School of Global Management; he is also Deputy Director of the BBA program at SP Jain’s Mumbai campus.