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Draft code of ethics to prevent misuse in polls: EC to social media platforms

The EC also suggested that the platforms should frame a code for the “immediate context” that can also become a “lasting document in the long run.”

Written by Karishma Mehrotra | New Delhi |
March 20, 2019 3:34:00 am
2019 Lok Sabha elections, election commission, facebook elections, twitter elections, social media in elections, bjp social media, congress social media, facebook, twitter, Facebook and 2019 polls, Twitter and 2019 polls, Whatsapp in 2019 polls, BJP, BJP social media, election news, fake news, paid news, As many as 149 political parties were registered with the poll panel between February and March on the eve of the announcement of the poll schedule.

More than a week after it announced dates for the Lok Sabha polls, the Election Commission Tuesday urged social media platforms including Google, Facebook and Twitter to develop a “Code of Ethics” for the election-related operational details within 24 hours.

Dropping broad hints of the contours of the Code, the EC suggested the platforms should consider incorporating “deterrents like some punitive actions” against users and adding “a clear clause” of voluntary agreement that would bind users to not “misuse social media platforms for election or political purposes”. Click for more election news

The EC also suggested that the platforms should frame a code for the “immediate context” that can also become a “lasting document in the long run.”

The EC suggestions were made at a meeting, which included CEC Sunil Arora, with the India executives of major social media platforms like Google, Facebook, Twitter, ShareChat, Tiktok, and Bigo Live in Delhi. During the interaction, representatives of the platforms presented their notification systems to receive content takedown requests from the EC and their portals to display advertisements that also will check for pre-certification by the EC’s Media Certification and Monitoring Committees. However, executives and the poll panel did not have a conclusive and explicit agreement on the time period that companies must respond to takedown notices, it is learnt. In a set of recommendations sent to the industry body representing the companies earlier this year, the Commission had called for a three-hour limit. But, the industry body had not explicitly agreed to the time window in its response.

Company executives told The Indian Express that the removal notice should be pushed with the advertiser first, not the platform. But this topic did not come up in the meeting, it is learnt. During the meeting, the companies also discussed other forms of notices, such as user reports. The companies and EC have already exchanged a list of designated emails of nodal officers from which they will send and receive takedown notices.

“We reaffirmed our commitment at today’s meeting with the CEC and look forward to working with the ECI to uphold the integrity and legality of social media campaigns by political parties on our platform,” said Berges Y Malu, Policy Head, ShareChat.

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