Age of Demagoguery and Surveillance Capitalism: A Case Study of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

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Abstract

Using the theoretical framework of surveillance capitalism, this paper analyses the election campaigns of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of India during the 2014 and 2019 elections. It endeavours to find out how BJP has weaponised information during these two elections: a) to convince voters, b) to consolidate power at home. By doing content analysis of both primary and secondary sources, the research finds out that massive targeted advertisements were used by BJP’s social media cell during these elections. Third parties (proxy) sources were especially helpful for BJP on Facebook for a wider outreach of its message on social media. The research further elaborates that the timing of targeted advertisements is shaped in a way that it ensures that people click the ad, thus achieving the desired political outcomes for BJP. Towards the end, it formulates a vehement case of taking back control of Indian digital lives by bringing cyberspace under greater democratic oversight and legal accountability.

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