NEW DELHI: As the nation inches towards the much-awaited Lok Sabha elections, the Election Commission has asked social media companies and platforms to come up with an action plan to quell the menace of fake news.The meeting was attended by the industry lobby Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and representatives from social media organizations such as Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, Google, ShareChat, TikTok and BigoTV.
The Commission also asked the companies for a detailed plan on how advertisements on social media platforms can be certified and the misuse of these platforms stopped 48 hours before polling commences.
The EC was also concerned about transparency in expenditure of political advertisements through social media platforms. “Pre-certification and transparency in expenditure of political advertisements was one of the main issues in the meeting,” said an EC official.
CEC Sunil Arora said that the Model Code of Conduct is a unique and historic document which is followed by all political parties and he exhorted the social media organizations, who are formidable force-multipliers, to come up with a similar code for the ongoing election process in the immediate context and a lasting document in the long run.
IAMAI and social media intermediaries agreed to come up with a ‘Code of Ethics’ for the industry laying down operational details by Wednesday evening. Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa suggested that a clear clause on users’ voluntarily agreeing not to misuse social media platforms for election or political purposes should be considered by the management.
“The meeting also focused on evolving a notification mechanism by social media platforms for acting upon the violations of Section 126 of R.P. Act, 1951 and preventing misuse of these platforms,” said the official. Section 126 of the RP Act prohibits displaying any election matter by means, inter alia, of television or similar apparatus, during the period of 48 hours before the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in a constituency.