Social media is not being overlooked by the Election Commission of India (ECI) in the forthcoming elections. According to DNA, ECI plans to bring social media into the ambit of paid news by cracking the whip on paid content circulated on social networking sites apart from restraining paid news items in print and electronic media.
Talking about the development, Akshay Rout -Director General of ECI, shared that the commission is planning to discuss this with Union Secretary of IT. While addressing an awareness seminar at Brilliant Convention Centre, he stated “Provisions of various legislations such as IT Act, Representation of the People’s Act and acts to regulate media would be used for issuing guidelines of controlling the social media.”
The plan is that District Returning Officers (DROs) will keep a tab on paid news and advertisements during the election through Media Certification and Monitoring Committees. Thereafter on the basis of complaints, the listed committees would keep an eye on paid news and notional value of such news would be added to the election expenditure of the candidate. The committee would monitor news circulated through cable network, Doordarshan, AIR and print media. Besides a similar committee has been formed at the state level for keeping track of paid content.
However, there is no punishment for the media in paid news cases and the media house concerned is entitled for appealing against the decision of the committee concerned in case any news is termed a paid one.
While the proposal is yet to get cleared, it is being referred as a required initiative to control the paid news for ensuring free and fair elections.
Earlier at the start of the year, the ECI had announced that any kind of social media advertisement carried out by contestants would be included in the election expenditure of the candidates. The decision was taken when the states like Meghalaya and Nagaland were about to witness elections.
It is certainly a rational move considering the present times but it remains to be seen whether it turns into reality and how it is implemented thereafter.