As campaigning for general election picks up, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its supporters continued to corner a bulk of ad spends on Facebook that have grown to Rs 8.38 crore, as per data from the social media giant.
As per Facebook’s Ad Library Report, the number of political ads was at 34,048 with the total spend at over Rs 6.88 crore between February up to March 16, 2019. This number grew to 41,514 at the end of March 23 with cumulative ad spends touching Rs 8.38 crore.
This is an increase of over 7,400 ads “related to politics and issues of national importance” on Facebook in India during the week ended March 23, 2018 as compared to the previous week. ‘Bharat Ke Mann Ki Baat’ page emerged as the top spender with well over 3,700 ads and pumping in more than Rs 2.23 crore (under two categories). The BJP had about 600 ads and spent over Rs 7 lakh, while other pages like ‘My First Vote for Modi’ and ‘Nation with NaMo’ saw large spending as well. Amit Shah’s page had one ad and an ad spend of Rs 2.12 lakh.
Compared to this, the Indian National Congress page had 410 ads and its ad spend was Rs 5.91 lakh in the February to March 23 period, as per data. In February, Facebook had said political advertisements on its platform will carry a ‘disclaimer’ offering details about those responsible for running the ad as the social media giant looks to bring transparency into political ads ahead of elections in India. This was done to give people more information about who is responsible for the ads they see.
With ensuing general elections, the Indian government had warned social media platforms of strong action if any attempt was made to influence the country’s electoral process through undesirable means. Over the past few months, social media players like Facebook, Twitter and Google have promised to infuse more transparency into political advertisements on their platform and have since announced a slew of measures as part of election integrity efforts.
Facebook, which has over 200 million users in India, has stated that it is committed to creating a new standard of transparency and authenticity for political advertising on its platform and Instagram.