Social media has not reached a stage where it can swing Indian elections despite the fears of those consumed by it, but it has surely emerged as an aggressive space where political parties compete for outreach. And crucially, it is the only platform which offers a glimpse into how much money parties are spending during elections. Patterns of how much money was spent on social media during the elections gives a fair idea of the hopes and desperations of political parties in play. Is the saffron giant just flexing its muscles or swinging wildly just to land a punch. Is the underdog responding in the same coin?
Aside from a recent RTI by Pune-based activist Vihar Durve which found that election bonds worth Rs 3,622 crore were bought between March and April, there isn’t much to go by for data on election spending. Only a part of it has become visible of late, with social media giants putting out data. The figures here have undeniable significance: Facebook is more and more a marketing (propaganda!) tool for political parties considering that 260 million Indians are on it, as of April, according to online surveyor Statista.