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Election Commission Meets Representatives Of Internet Firms

The Election Commission on Tuesday met representatives of Internet companies, including Facebook and Twitter, to discuss issues related to the use of social media for campaigning in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls while the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is in force.

The meeting comes after the Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change (CASC) sent a notice to the poll panel, urging it to take action against the misuse of social media to influence voters.

The agenda of the meeting was to find ways to avoid misuse of social media during elections and create a mechanism for the poll panel to flag violations.

With the Election Commission on March 9 outlining stringent guidelines for social media usage during elections, political parties and candidates won’t be able to post unverified advertisements, photographs of defence personnel, hate speeches and fake news on their accounts.

According to the new guidelines, candidates are required to furnish details of their social media accounts at the time of filing nominations and their activities on Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Google would be under the Election Commission’s close scrutiny.

Provisions of the model code of conduct will also apply to the content being posted on social media by candidates and political parties. Any violation may lead to action by the Election Commission.

It also asked Facebook to remove political posters shared by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders referring to Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman and his pictures.

In this regard, the Election Commission had summoned Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Google and TikTok for a meeting on Tuesday.

During the meeting, the issues of pre-certification for online political advertisements and setting a time-line for social media companies to remove content after violation being flagged were also expected to be discussed.―CNBC TV18

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