With the elections coming close, the Election Commission Of India (ECI) has been gearing up aggressively to monitor the internet and social media networks specially. According to latest reports, the ECI is using a special digital system to monitor the Internet for possible violations of Model Code of Conduct ahead of next month’s Assembly elections.
Stating more about the monitoring system, Chief Electoral Officer of Madhya Pradesh, Jaideep Govind, on Monday said that the Commission is using ‘Textual Information Extraction and Retrieval System’. Jaideep further added that the system is being operated by the Pune-based Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC).
Talking about how the system performs monitoring, the Chief highlighted that it searches for keywords and extracts the Internet data from mass media sources and Twitter so that it can be checked for violation of the Model Code. In other words, the ECI must have a predefined set of keywords to be flagged, that C-DAC is tracking and providing reports for. Though what happens next is not clear. Will there be any punishment or will that conversation be blocked? What happens when the profile is anonymous or from a fake profile?
The system is monitoring Twitter quite aggressively since Jaideep feels that, “The monitoring will also be extended to cover Twitter as its popularity has been dynamically increasing across political circles. We hope that this will help us further in conducting free and fair elections in Madhya Pradesh.”
The initiative is good considering that it is all for having free and fair elections. But 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.
Jaideep agrees that, “Despite our best efforts, the misuse of the media has often gone unnoticed.” However, the idea is to minimize the risks that the Internet and social media has thrown up with respect to elections for the ECI.