Social Media Platforms to Monitor Campaigns Ahead of Lok Sabha Election

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All candidates will be asked to give details of their social media accounts while filing their nomination papers for the national election. Announcing the dates for the April-May polls, the Election Commission also said social media platforms like Twitter, Google and Facebook have “committed in writing” to ensuring a special monitoring mechanism for a clean campaign.
In an attempt to check fake news, social media platforms have been asked to appoint officers and take action against offenders, said Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora. These “grievance officers” will take “necessary and prompt actions against the contents published on their platforms”, said Mr Arora.

Social Media platforms have assured action on any content reported by designated officers of the election body.

“The Internet and Mobile Association of India, in consultation with the Election Commission, is formulating a set of code of ethics for intermediary online platforms. This is work in progress,” added the election chief.All political advertisements on social media will need pre-certification.

Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have been asked to verify advertisements coming from political parties. “All expenditure on campaigning ads on social media has to be included in the election expenditure account,” said the election chief.

The national election will be held in seven phases from 11 April and the results will be announced on May 23. Voting will be held across India on April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19.

The model code of conduct spelling out dos and don’ts for elections is now in place. This time, the code will apply to the social media content of political parties.

The new rules, however, left many questions. For example, there is no mention of WhatsApp, which has been the forum for the viral spread of fake news or vitriolic hate propaganda. Experts have questioned how monitoring can be done for WhatsApp, which is end-to-end encrypted and so, cannot be accessed.

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