Monitoring social media has been a new task for the Election Commission of India (ECI). While the ECI has been trying hard to crack it, Delhi’s Election Commission has declared that monitoring such a medium is impossible at the moment. According to New India Express, Delhi’s Election Commission recently admitted that there was a loophole in monitoring of social media and said a strong mechanism was needed to deal with such communication, which at present is virtually “impossible” to keep track of.
Highlighting the loophole, Chief Electoral Officer, Vijay Dev shared that till now Election Commission was only tackling the online accounts of candidates and political parties. However, the job becomes tricky when a fan is managing such accounts. “Any citizen on behalf of these political parties or candidates can come out with anything on Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites to influence people and we cannot have any control over that,” said Dev, adding that a strong mechanism needed to be in place to tackle the issue.
ECI’s desire to keep a close watch on the campaigning activities carried out by political parties via social media has been there for some time. From tracking the cash flow being invested on social media by political parties to keeping a check on proxy profiles the ECI wants to execute it all. For the monitoring task, the ECI has started pitching IT experts who would help the district level committee to check the misuse of social media and its illegal use for campaigning.
The move was a rational one considering the present times but the execution and ECI’s understanding of the medium is under question. We had raised concerns on how ECI plans to monitor fake accounts, investments made by fans for their political parties and removal of objectionable content.
This would need more time and planning. Recently, ECI met the social media and tech companies such as Facebook, Google, Yahoo, among others to discuss the use of social media by political parties and candidates in the ongoing five-state elections. In the meeting ECI directed these companies to cooperate in monitoring content. ECI had also asked to set up a mechanism that would help prevent the posting of material that has the potential of vitiating the election atmosphere.
Hopefully the ECI can come up with some more concrete plans for social media before the general elections early next year.