This year the Election Commission (EC) has an additional responsibility of tracking social media spends. A daunting task but the EC has woken up and is making efforts to make it happen. According to ET, the EC, for the first time, will keep a watch on the spending on social media by political parties in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
The EC plans to keep a close vigil on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and spending on these platforms by political parties would be strictly monitored.
“Spending in social media will be strictly monitored by the poll panel,” Assistant Chief Electoral Officer in West Bengal Amitjyoti Bhattacharya said while addressing a media workshop.
Joint CEO Amit Roy Chowdhury said that the EC would also set up state and district level Media Certification and Monitoring Committees at the state and district levels to keep a tab on expenses incurred by political parties and check instances of paid news in the print and electronic media.
However, there has been no further clarification on how the EC plans to monitor social media.
Monitoring of social media has been a concern for the EC since the last year when the assembly elections happened in five states. Last we had heard the EC calling for a meeting with websites on November 18 to discuss the use of social media by political parties and candidates in the five-state elections. The companies that had been called for the meeting were Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Ebay and Rediff.com.
In the meeting the EC had directed the social media companies to cooperate in monitoring content. The EC had asked to set up a mechanism that would help prevent the posting of material that has the potential of vitiating the election atmosphere.
Since then there has been no update from EC on having monitored social media and what was the result.
The dates of the election are due to be out today, but the EC seems to be still catching on social media and its nuances. Last year ahead of the Assembly elections, EC had planned to use a special digital system to monitor the Internet for possible violations of Model Code of Conduct.
Not sure if they plan to use the same since the keyword tracking won’t have a great impact as I had shared in my piece – Is the Election Commission of India late in keeping a check on politicians’ use of social media? Not only tracking social media investments but monitoring fake social media profiles and objectionable content will also pose a big challenge.
Let’s hope that the measures adopted by EC have some fruitful results rather than just being fodder to debate for the online and offline media.