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On Facebook: AAP top spender on political ads, BJP on pro-CAA ones

While some pages are authorised as official political party pages by Facebook, some pay for pro- or anti-party content, but bypass conventional expenditure sheets by labelling themselves as “community” or “satire/parody” pages.

Written by Karishma Mehrotra | New Delhi | Published: January 24, 2020 2:25:41 am
On Facebook: AAP top spender on political ads, BJP on pro-CAA ones The decrease in spending from BJP and BJP-affiliated pages comes in stark contrast to their massive spending in the Lok Sabha and subsequent state polls, surpassing rival parties.

AAP and the Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC), which is assisting the party with its campaign, have spent three times the pro-BJP handles on Facebook political advertising in the past month, ever since the Jharkhand polls ended. The BJP, meanwhile, has spent as much as AAP-IPAC on pro-CAA advertising nationwide. The Facebook transparency report shows that the official AAP page has spent roughly Rs 4.4 lakh on Delhi ads this past month, while the official BJP Delhi page has spent about Rs 1.6 lakh.

While some pages are authorised as official political party pages by Facebook, some pay for pro- or anti-party content, but bypass conventional expenditure sheets by labelling themselves as “community” or “satire/parody” pages.

While the BJP’s official Facebook page has concentrated solely on a pan-India CAA campaign, their official and unofficial Delhi-focused social media spending has decreased.

Out of the total Rs 63 lakh spent on Facebook advertisements in Delhi since the end of Jharkhand polls on December 23, I-PAC has spent the most — about Rs 12.2 lakh. In that time period in Delhi, an unofficial pro-BJP page, ‘Main Hoon Dilli’, spent Rs 5.40 lakh; the official AAP page about Rs. 4.4 lakh; an unofficial anti-BJP page, ‘My Delhi-My Pride’, Rs 3 lakh; an unofficial anti-AAP page Rs 2.4 lakh; and the official INC page Rs 2.4 lakh.

However, between January 15 and 21 in Delhi, AAP and Congress have surged past the pro-BJP pages in spending. Out of the total Rs 20 lakh spent, I-PAC spent Rs 4.5 lakh; AAP Rs 3.7 lakh; and INC-Delhi Rs 1.6 lakh. The pro-BJP ‘Main Hoon Dilli’ spent a Rs 67,000.

The official BJP page has not paid for any Delhi campaign ads. Instead, the page has launched only two ads — one about the pro-CAA missed call campaign and the other a video of Sadhguru supporting CAA. Since December 23, the page has spent Rs 15 lakh for the ads to be seen more than 1 million times, with the most views in West Bengal and Maharashtra.

BJP Delhi has spent Rs 1.6 lakh in the past month, and no money in the January 15-21 time period. ‘Main Hoon Dilli’ has published advertisements featuring Supreme Court advocate Indira Jaising’s words on the December 2012 gangrape case, as well as alleging poor water quality in Delhi and empty teacher posts in Delhi government schools.

The decrease in spending from BJP and BJP-affiliated pages comes in stark contrast to their massive spending in the Lok Sabha and subsequent state polls, surpassing rival parties.

Weeks before the Model Code of Conduct for the 2019 polls kicked in, Facebook instituted stricter rules for political advertisements and a formal authorisation process. The company also launched a political ad portal, archiving all Indian political ads with audience demographics and funding details for seven years.

However, an analysis by The Indian Express has shown how unofficial pages paying for pro-party content still make up a majority of advertisements on the platform in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.

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