Friday, Dec 19, 2014

EC gears up to monitor campaigning on social media

Written by Ruhi Bhasin | New Delhi | Posted: November 7, 2013 2:15 am

Ahead of the December 4 Assembly polls,the Delhi Election Commission is gearing up to monitor the social media for political activity.

Making the announcement on Thursday,the EC said deputy director-level officials from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry will be helping the electoral body in its endeavour to monitor and check breach of model code of conduct.

However,the EC admitted that it was not possible to keep a check on each and every political activity on the internet as Twitter handles and user IDs on public discussion forums could be changed easily.

“While our staff will directly be monitoring official websites of candidates and parties,we will have to depend on complaints by individuals to take action against unofficial websites or violation on social media. For instance,on Facebook,you can restrict people from viewing your account. So we can only monitor what is there in the public domain,” chief nodal officer (model code of conduct) Ankur Garg said.

Garg said that according to the guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India,all candidates would be asked to declare information about their email and social media accounts in their affidavits.

“Further,all political advertisements on websites or social media sites will need pre-certification from the EC. The provisions of the model code of conduct will also apply to content posted on the internet by candidates and parties,” he said.

The guidelines were issued after political parties and candidates began to use the social media extensively for campaigning.

According to guidelines,Garg said,all expenditure on designing websites would have to be shown as part of the candidate’s personal expenditure. He added that 10 media certification and monitoring committees had been assigned the responsibility of keeping an eye on social media.

Meanwhile,with several candidates making use of messenger apps such as WhatsApp and BlackBerry Messenger,the election commission said guidelines applicable for SMSes would be applicable to chat apps too.

“Expenditure incurred on messaging through any form will have to be declared. In case of WhatsApp,the candidate can declare their internet usage,’’ Garg said.

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