The Election Commission has directed all social networking sites to scrutinise the content displayed by them to ensure that they do not violate the model code of conduct. The EC guidelines issued Tuesday also said no political advertisement will be displayed on such sites without a pre-certification.
With politicians taking to social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook in a bid to woo young generation for the upcoming general elections, the move is aimed at addressing the problem of paid news on these and other sites.
The pre-certification will have to be obtained from the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee which was appointed by the EC at district and state levels to scrutinise all media within its jurisdiction to identify political advertisement in the garb of news.
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The committee is tasked with observing and compiling daily report on all ad expenditure of a candidate, including suspected cases of paid news along with supportive documents.
“Internet sites shall inform the commission regarding the expenditure incurred by the political parties/candidates on political ads when requested for… Internet-based media will do active scrutiny to ensure that content displayed by them during the electoral process is not unlawful or malicious or violative of the model code of conduct,” the EC has said.
It has also directed the sites to remove any unlawful content that comes to the notice of the election machinery.
Reacting to the directive, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) said the Internet companies have already put in place community standards to free the web space of hate speeches, bullying and harassment.
“There is a real concern that additional regulations — with their corresponding compliance requirements — will negatively impact the rights of users and citizens to use the platforms freely and without apprehension of government interference, in addition to their likely damaging impact on the functioning of such services themselves,” the IAMAI said.