00:47 GMT16 July 2020
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    An Indian newspaper that studied election candidates’ engagements with voters on Facebook claims that the leaders who won the recently held state assembly elections were not those who had the most number of fan followers on the social media platform.

    New Delhi (Sputnik):  A heavy fan following or a bigger friend circle on Facebook hardly has any correlation to a politician's popularity, proves a study by an Indian Daily released close on the heels of the recently held elections to five state assemblies.

    In an analysis of the study, The Hindustan Times points out that in four of the five states that went to polls, leaders of the parties that won did not capture the most engagement on the social media platform Facebook.

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    "Do engagements with politicians on Facebook reflect on-ground sentiment? If we go by the results of the five states that went to polls in November and December, the answer is: not so much. At least, there is no strict correlation between leaders who grab attention on social media and those who get to rule," the report reads.

    Data shows that Rajasthan was the only state where the leaders of the party that won had tremendous engagement on the social media platform. The story was the opposite in Madhya Pradesh and Telangana. In the other two states, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram, Facebook activity was low. 

    ​"It is utterly a false theory that Indian elections can be influenced by social media. We have a majority of voters still in rural areas and social media is still not a relevant tool for them. More importantly, social media in India for the majority is an entertainment platform and not an information sharing medium," Ankit Das, a researcher on social communication at Mahatma Gandhi University told Sputnik.

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    Another scholar has a slightly different take on the issue.

    "No one has ever claimed that social media alone decide the fate of a candidate. It is an important influencer and in a cutthroat election campaign like in India, every small help in putting forward the campaign counts and that makes social media important," Sadanand Singh, social media Communication in-charge with SmallInc digital firm told Sputnik.

    The study by The Hindustan Times comes shortly after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made some startling revelations in November that in the preceding two quarters alone the company had removed more than 1.5 billion fake accounts across its platform. 


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