Two in every three Indian voters don’t use social media: CSDS study
The CSDS report found that those who are using these social media platforms continue to be mostly from certain well to do and comfortably placed sections—mostly upper caste, urban, highly educated and young voters.
Social media influenced the US election; its impact on India’s 2019 general election may have been overhyped.
The Lokniti-CSDS survey shows that the BJP-led alliance did enjoy an advantage among social media users, and particularly among those who use it very often, but they didn’t do quite well among those who were not on social media at all.
And guess what: voters with high social media exposure account for only a tenth of the electorate and almost two in every three Indian voters have never been on a social platform, the study found.
Therefore, the report notes, BJP would have won the election even if social media was taken out of the equation—they got a high proportion of votes (36%) among those not exposed to social media.
Furthermore, the impact of social media exposure on BJP’s vote share was not uniform: there was a strong correlation between social media usage and vote for the BJP among upper castes and adviasis, but that relationship didn’t translate among Dalits and OBCs.
Similarly, the correlation was strong among the college educated but not among those who have studied up till Class X.
Funny thing is, while BJP’s lead over Congress among those who use social media declined in 2019 as compared to the last general election, its lead among those who do not use social media widened.
Moreover, only one-fourth of social media users reported using the medium regularly for airing their political views and thoughts, and only one-third said they use the medium for reading political news daily or sometimes.
What’s more: about a quarter of social media users said they did not trust news shared on the platform at all.
Meanwhile, the awareness of the slogans of both the major political parties, such as “Chowkidar chor hai” and “Main bhi chowkidar”, were above 80 per cent among those with high social media usage, but only about 50 per cent among those with no exposure.
Thought the constant bombardment of communal propaganda impacted people’s opinions towards minorities pretty bad? Well, survey data suggests that voters with high social media usage were more likely to believe that Muslims are nationalist and also that India belongs to all its religions equally—and not to Hindus alone—than voters with no exposure to social media whatsoever.
The report also found that those who are using these social media platforms continue to be mostly from certain well to do and comfortably placed sections—mostly upper caste, urban, highly educated and young voters.
Women, the report notes, continue to lag far behind men when it comes to smartphone ownership and social media usage—and that the gap between the two genders has only reduced marginally compared to two years ago, across platforms.