The Election Commission will closely monitor the social media campaigns of political parties and candidates in the upcoming election for any faulty content regarding the electoral process or aiming to disturb peace, tranquility and harmony.
It is for the first time that social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google have willingly confirmed to work with the EC.
The three US-based companies had made a written commitment to EC during consultations with the latter’s committee that reviewed Section 126 of Representation of the People Act last year, to help the poll panel regulate political campaigns on their platforms that are objectionable or in violation of the model code of conduct and laws of the country.
As per the commitment, the details of which are to be worked out by Internet and Mobile Association of India, social media companies or “intermediaries” have already started awareness campaigns for their users, highlighting the activities of EC in this regard. These campaigns cover unlawful conduct during election, particularly during the 48-hour silence period prior to conclusion of polling.
All the social media platforms have agreed to establish priority channels for EC for quick response. They have taken specific measures to appoint grievance officers for the upcoming election. The EC, through the media certification and monitoring committee, will work with the social media companies to flag objectionable content to their grievance officers, who will then pull them down within a given timeline.
The platforms will also deploy appropriate fact checkers to scan fake news and abuse on their timeline.
The social media companies, incidentally, are already taking actions against fake accounts, spam etc.
Political advertising on social media will be made more transparent, with advertisement being clearly labelled as so. Besides, each of these platforms has created a mechanism to accept only pre-certified political advertisements during the elections and will share the expenditure incurred on this account with the election authorities for the purposes of accounting.
EC as part its guidelines on use of social media by parties and candidates, requires candidates to furnish details of their social media accounts. Also, social media being part of electronic media, it needs to have all political advertisements pre-certified by the media certification and monitoring committee.
Candidates need to account for expenditure on social media advertising. Besides all provisions of model code of conduct apply to content posted on social media.