Noted American author and columnist Thomas Friedman has warned that Russia might meddle in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections through unregulated media such as Facebook, just as it as alleged to have done during the United States presidential elections, PTI reported.
The author of books such as The World is Flat and From Beirut to Jerusalem made the remarks at an annual Nasscom summit in Mumbai. “If you [Indians] think they [Russians] will not be playing in your elections, you are not paying attention,” Friedman warned. “Believe me, Putin will be voting in your election.”
The writer also heavily criticised Facebook for allegedly failing to prevent the reported misuse of its platform. “Mark Zuckerburg did computer coding in college but did not take a constitutional course in the college,” he said. “He extended the Facebook platform all over the world without thinking about the privacy or election implications. And we are now paying the price for that.”
While a newspaper such as The New York Times – for which Friedman writes – is strictly regulated, Facebook revels at zero oversight, he pointed out. Facebook wants newspapers’ advertisers and readers but without the regulation over things such fake news, he added.
An investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller is looking into ties between US President Donald Trump’s campaign officials and Russia. It is also looking into other ways Moscow may have influenced the 2016 presidential polls. Russia is also accused of attempting to meddle in the 2016 Brexit referendum.
Last year, Mark Zuckerberg had appeared in front of a US Senate committee following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and had admitted that Facebook had not done enough to protect the data of its users during election time. He had said that 2018 was an “important year for the whole world, with several countries like India, Pakistan having elections”. “We’ll do everything possible to ensure these elections are safe,” he’d said.