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Delhi CEO’s office gets 17 requests to certify social media ads — all from BJP

Special CEO Satnaam Singh told The Indian Express that the office had received a total of 17 requests for certification, of which 15 had been approved and two sent back for modification. All of them were from the BJP.

Written by Aranya Shankar | New Delhi |
Updated: March 18, 2019 7:26:07 am
Monitoring Panel To Keep Tabs: Delhi CEO’s office gets 17 requests to certify social media ads — all from BJP Women volunteers at the Delhi BJP office. (Express photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

With the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) applicable to social media posts this election year, any political advertisements by  candidates and parties have to be certified by the Media Certification & Monitoring Committee (MCMC) set up by the Election Commission at the district level and at the CEO office.

However, while social media campaigning by various parties has already begun, the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Delhi, has said the BJP is the only party to have applied for certification.

“Individual candidates have to apply for certification at the district level and parties have to apply at the CEO office. They are supposed to apply at least three days before they want to release the political advertisement. Without certification, their content is illegal,” CEO Ranbir Singh told The Indian Express.

Special CEO Satnaam Singh told The Indian Express that the office had received a total of 17 requests for certification, of which 15 had been approved and two sent back for modification. All of them were from the BJP.

“In two, we have asked them to modify a certain portion of their content. They submitted it again after deleting that portion and were given certification,” he said. Click here for more election news

“Anything going on social media is pre-certified. It is played before the committee, and we have 24 hours to dispose of the request and decide if it is suitable for public viewing. That is determined by whether the material — audio or visual — is conforming with the MCC and other election-related rules,” he added.

The Commission has set up a Media Monitoring Cell, comprising 30-40 people, which keeps tabs on electronic and social media. “We have hired the services of a Public Sector Undertaking under the Government of India called Becil. They have deployed three people, who are experts in handling social media, to keep tabs,” said Singh.

A Becil employee working with the CEO office said that as of now, the team was only focusing on Facebook and Twitter.

“We are using software, which we cannot name, to monitor Facebook and Twitter. Once the pace picks up, we will also move to other platforms like WhatsApp. We are following accounts of political parties as well as individual politicians, and using other mechanisms like metatags and hashtags to monitor social media activity,” she said.

“It’s at a very initial stage so there are not many violations. However, we have found a few problematic posts and we will take action on that soon,” she added.

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