The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was the largest advertiser on the social media giant Facebook in India on "social issues, elections and politics" over the last 18 months, spending a whopping ₹4.61 crore since February 2019, followed by the Congress party with ₹1.84 crore, data available until August 24 on Facebook's spending tracker revealed.
The tracker showed that four other advertisers who were listed in the top 10 spenders had links to the BJP, including three that share the same address in Delhi as the party's national headquarters, Indian Express reported.
These four include two community pages, 'My First Vote for Modi' (₹1.39 crore) and 'Bharat Ke Mann Ki Baat' (₹2.24 crore); 'Nation With Namo', which is a news and media website (₹1.28 crore); and, a page affiliated to BJP leader and former MP R K Sinha (₹0.65 crore).
The other advertisers include the news platform Dailyhunt with over 1 crore and e-commerce platform Flipkart with ₹86.43 lakh.
Together with the BJP, their ad spend totals ₹10.17 crore, which constitutes 64 per cent of the total advertising (₹15.81 crore) by the top ten in this category. The other political party among the top ten in this category is Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) with ₹69 lakh.
According to the data, Facebook India's total ad spend under this category since February 2019 stood at ₹59.65 crore. The ads were not limited to the website and app, but were prevalent across other Facebook properties including Instagram and Messenger.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology on August 14 had sought an explanation from Facebook on The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report that claimed that its top executive Ankhi Das "opposed applying hate-speech rules" to those linked with the BJP despite the fact that they were "flagged internally for promoting or participating in violence."