Social media pose threat to democracy, says Ram Madhav

BJP leader says new rules are needed to tackle big tech, and that the government is already working in this direction

BJP leader Ram Madhav on Saturday highlighted the dangers posed by social media to democracies, and said solutions to tackle big tech companies must be found within the constitutional framework.

Madhav was speaking at the launch of his new book, Because India Comes First, at the Prabha Khaitan Foundation in Kolkata. He warned that the rise of “non-political” and “non-state” actors presented new challenges to democracies.

“Social media is so powerful that it can even topple governments and regulating them is difficult as they are borderless. These forces can promote anarchy, which will weaken democracy, but solutions should be within the constitutional framework,” he said. Current laws are not equipped to regulate big tech, he said. “We require new rules and laws to tackle and manage [such firms]. The government is already working in this direction.”

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Madhav’s comments come amid a new row between the government and Twitter over blocking of around 200 accounts. Nearly two weeks ago, Union Minister for Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad said in the Rajya Sabha that Twitter and others such as Facebook and WhatsApp must follow the rules of the land. He also said that the government will not tolerate the spread of fake news and hate on social media.

The Supreme Court has also issued a notice to the Centre and Twitter on a plea seeking to regulate hate content.

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During the Kolkata event, Madhav took several questions. Answering a question on Mahatma Gandhi, he said the RSS does not undermine any leader’s contribution.

“There may be differences of opinion, which we even find between Nehru and Gandhi from the letters exchanged between them, but that does not mean we disrespect a national leader. In the RSS morning prayer, we have Gandhi’s name along with other leaders,” he said.

He also defended the Centre’s decision to read down Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. “Kashmiris have been victims of propaganda for long. Things are changing but may take some time,” he said.