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EC firms up social media rules ahead of LS polls, calls meetings of heads

By Anuj Cariappa
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New Delhi, Mar 17: The Election Commission has called the country heads of all major social media platforms - Facebook (which also owns Whatsapp), Twitter, Google, ShareChat and TikTok - on Tuesday to share updates on the systems they propose to or have already put in place to flag and take down poll campaign that violate the laws as well as the model code of conduct.

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) will also send a senior representative to Tuesday's meeting with the full Commission comprising chief election commissioner Sunil Arora and election commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra.

EC firms up social media rules ahead of LS polls, calls meetings of heads

Sources in the Commission said the purpose of the deliberations is to study the proposals that social media companies have drawn up to implement the commitment they had made to EC last year to help the poll body monitor and crack down on campaign and posts on their platform that violate Indian laws including Representation of the People Act as well as model code of conduct.

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The commitments related to appointment of dedicated grievance officers with whom EC can liaise to flag posts that are unlawful and have then taken down. Also, they had committed to appointing fact-checkers to scan and take down fake news, fake accounts, abusive posts and spam.

The third commitment related to advertisement transparency, under which they would reveal the adspend on poll campaigns to facilitate EC in accounting for the same in candidate's poll expenditure. All paid advertisements on social media are to be declared as such. Another commitment made by the social media giants is to have each advertisement on their platform pre-certified by the media certification committee before it is uploaded.

This is the first time the full Commission will meet country heads of all the social media firms together.

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