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Mainstream Media Blacking Out Congress, Party Using Social Network To Connect With People: Supriya Shrinate

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GUWAHATI, April 23: Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate claimed that social media has helped her party to connect with people as mainstream media is “blacking out” the grand old party.

Respecting India’s diversity, the party has been creating content in as many regional languages as possible, said Shrinate who heads the Congress social media and digital platforms cell.

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She claimed that her party has ‘far higher’ engagement rates as compared to its competitor the BJP.

“Engagement rates on social media for Congress vis-a-vis our main competitor BJP are far higher. Our reach is far higher despite the fact that our actual followers are still lower than BJP,” Shrinate, said in an interview with PTI here.

The fact that “mainstream media chooses to ignore us but people still know us, what we are doing works in Congress’ favour”, she added.

On how the Congress is utilising social media to reach out to the masses, she said, “The strategy is simple. We mirror exactly what we do on the ground. I don’t think social media and politics are two divorced things, they are complimentary to each other.”

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She said Congress’s social media strategy is based broadly on four points “to come out with only the truth and not indulge in fake news, to be fast in reaching out, to keep the narrative decent and related to the issues on the ground, and create the content depending on the platform and audience, with videos taking a priority.”

Issues are chosen as per the region as relevance varies from place to place, with the party focussing on creating content in as many regional languages as possible, Shrinate claimed.

“We try and do a lot of stuff in vernacular languages. It comes from our deep appreciation of India’s diversity,” she said, adding “The essence here is that we represent the values we stand for and that we don’t believe in imperialism of language or thought,” Shrinate added.

“Our leadership has a lot of visibility across social media, he (Rahul Gandhi) understands social media well, he speaks to them (people), he does a video from the car and this is relatable these are advantageous for us,” Shrinate maintained.

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On trolls used to discredit rival parties and leaders, she said, “Trolls are a menace. I wish our polity was mature, our political discourse was mature.”

Shrinate maintained that when taking over her responsibilities in the party’s social media cell, she had decided to keep it a place for ‘meaningful engagement and has held on to her end of the bargain’.

The Congress spokesperson alleged that the BJP has weaponised fake news and uses social media to push propaganda.

Conceding that BJP had a ‘first mover advantage’ on using social media, she said, “But they have weaponised fake news, misinformation, used it to assassinate people’s reputation, to distort truth, push propaganda.”

Shrinate maintained that the Congress made a conscious choice of not indulging in such activities on social media and has been rather using it to reach more people.

The BJP, however, has indulged in offensive caricatures and videos, peddling half truths and full lies, and offensive posts, especially against women, she alleged.

“Constant threats on me are not about how they may want to shut down my operations or dispute an argument I am making. It is always sexual, name-calling, threatening my family, my daughter,” the journalist-turned-politician claimed.

Shrinate also stressed on role of social media platform owners in controlling trolls and misuse of their forums.

Citing her own experience of being criticised for posts on parody accounts in her name, the Congress leader said, “Social media owners also need to step in. I had two parody accounts shut down. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and all platforms have to be more proactive in acting upon complaints.” (PTI)

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