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75% of Hindu social media users believe India belongs to all religions – survey

75% of Hindu social media users believe India belongs to all religions – survey
Three quarters of Hindu social media-using voters in India believe that the country belongs to all religions, while 28 percent of respondents believe that Muslims are highly nationalist, a new national survey has found.

The survey, conducted by the Centre for Studies of Developing Societies (CSDS), studied the impact of social media in shaping public opinion in the lead-up to this year’s national election and found that recent increased exposure to social media has dramatically changed the playing field and shaped opinion, in rather surprising ways.

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Across all categories of social media users surveyed, three-quarters believed that India belongs to all religions equally, in contrast to the one-sixth of respondents who felt that India belongs exclusively to Hindus.

Also, 28 percent of respondents with high social media exposure were more likely to believe that Muslims are highly nationalist compared to those with no exposure, while 15 percent think the opposite. Regardless of social media exposure, knowledge of the February airstrikes by the Indian Air Force against suspected jihadists in Balakot, Pakistan was high, though far higher among social media users than those who didn’t have an online presence.  

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The researchers found that new digital technologies and online social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram were leveraged by political parties who established ‘cyber warriors’ or ‘cyber armies’ targeting “first-time and young voters who are most likely to be on these spaces.”

The report, released this week, covered surveys conducted in 211 parliamentary constituencies in 26 states between April and May involving 24,236 voters.

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