Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ram Madhav on Sunday said that social media has become so powerful that it can even topple governments, leading to anarchy and a weakened democracy, reported PTI.

“Social media is so powerful that it can even topple governments and regulating them is difficult as they are borderless,” he said at the launch of his new book Because India Comes First. “These forces can promote anarchy, which will weaken democracy but solutions should be within the constitutional framework.”

Democracy is stressed and facing new challenges with the rise of the “non-political”, Madhav said. “We require new rules and laws to tackle and manage. The government is already working in this direction.”

The BJP leader’s remarks came amid a controversy between the Centre and Twitter in relation to blocking certain accounts on the platform. Earlier in February, the Centre had directed Twitter to block nearly 1,200 accounts with suspected links to Khalistan sympathisers or Pakistan. Before that, it had asked for the removal of 250 accounts and tweets using the “ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide” hashtag.

On February 10, Twitter said it has withheld “a portion” of accounts which the Indian government had directed the microblogging platform to block for allegedly spreading misinformation about the farmers’ protest. In a blogpost, it added that actions were taken only against selected accounts as Twitter did not believe that the government’s orders were “consistent with Indian law”.

Twitter said that since the Indian government had sent it a notice for non-compliance, it wanted to clarify the steps it took to censor harmful content. The platform had unblocked 250 accounts tweeting with the alleged objectionable hashtag on February 1, just hours after withholding them.

The Indian government also flagged concerns in January about WhatsApp’s new privacy policy. On January 16, WhatsApp had announced that it would delay the planned privacy update, as the messaging service found itself in the throes of widespread backlash about the safety of user data. WhatsApp said it would push back the changes to May 15 from February 8, and would “do lot more to clear up the misinformation” about the app.

The policy makes it clear that WhatsApp collects expansive meta data from users’ phones, including internet protocol addresses and phone number area codes to estimate users’ geographical location. More significantly, the privacy policy confirms that WhatsApp will allow Facebook access to messages that users share with businesses on the messenger app, which will enable Facebook to further influence user behaviour through targeted advertising.

WhatsApp had issued two clarifications to assuage privacy concerns of users.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had also told WhatsApp Chief Executive Officer Will Cathcart that the company must reconsider its approach to information privacy, freedom of choice and data security.

Also read:

Twitter withholds some accounts flagged by Centre, but says ‘orders not consistent with Indian law’

WhatsApp indicates it will go ahead with privacy policy amid backlash