Book Review: ‘The Deception Industry’ by Herjinder

Decoding Political Influence in the Social Media Era

Book Title: The Deception Industry: The Art, Craft, and Science of Hacking the Electorate
Author: Herjinder
Publisher: Rupa Publications India
Number of Pages: 184
ISBN: 978-9361562181
Date Published: May 3, 2024
Price: INR 405

The Deception Industry by Herjinder

Book Review

In an age where technology and social media reign supreme, “The Deception Industry: The Art, Craft, and Science of Hacking the Electorate” by Herjinder delves deep into the intersection of politics and digital influence. This compelling book exposes the inner workings of modern election campaigns, revealing how political parties harness the power of social media influencers to amplify their messages and sway public opinion.

Considering the ongoing Lok Sabha elections in India and State Assembly elections in some states reflect meticulous analysis and compelling storytelling, the book unveils the pervasive impact of mobile phones and voter data on contemporary political strategies. From clandestine data repositories to orchestrated social media campaigns, the authors paint a vivid picture of the tools and tactics employed to shape the electoral landscape.

Here are some key points based on recent analyses and studies:

  • Political Mobilization: With rising internet penetration and the availability of affordable data plans and smartphones, social media has become a significant site of political mobilization in India.
  • Election Campaigns: Social media has transformed how voters and political parties connect and engage. It allows for direct communication and the dissemination of campaign material to a broad audience.
  • Misinformation and Disinformation: There is a proliferation of election-related misinformation and disinformation, which can deceive voters, warp their awareness of key electoral issues, and jeopardize democracy. This includes the spread of deepfakes and manipulated media intended to mislead readers or viewers.
  • Regulatory Challenges: The regulatory framework struggles to keep up with the rapid changes and challenges presented by social media, including the enforcement of rules against misinformation and the approval of misleading advertisements.
  • Impact on Voter Behavior: While the direct electoral impact of social media campaigns is hard to determine, there is no doubt that social media has intrinsically changed voter behavior and the electoral process.
  • Data Analysis: Social media platforms provide a wealth of data that can be analyzed to gauge public opinion, often in a time- and cost-effective manner compared to traditional methods.
  • Echo Chambers: Social media can create echo chambers where users are exposed primarily to information that reinforces their existing beliefs, potentially leading to polarization.

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Going beyond the tools and influencers, the book turns a critical eye to the deception industry itself, dissecting the electoral business landscape and its ethical ambiguities. “The Deception Industry” doesn’t merely analyze; it compels readers to grapple with the moral complexities inherent in employing deceptive strategies to secure electoral victories.

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