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Election Commission convenes meeting with social media platforms

New Delhi: Election Commission of India today had an in-depth interactive session with representatives of various Social Media Platforms and Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) on the usage of Social Media ahead of the Lok Sabha Elections 2019.

In his opening remarks, Chief Election Commissioner Shri Sunil Arora cited Model Code of Conduct as a unique and historic document which is followed by all political parties /entities from the date of declaration of schedule of elections till the election process is concluded. This Code is the outcome of consensus evolved amongst the different Political Parties and ECI.

In fact, more often than not, this Code has obviated the need for application of more stringent provisions of law, he said. Shri Arora exhorted the Social Media Organizations, who are formidable force-multipliers, to come up with a similar Code for the ongoing election process in the immediate context and a lasting document in the long run.

Election Commissioner Shri Ashok Lavasa pointed out that today's has been a momentous meeting for the evolution of ‘behaviour’ of Social Media platforms on Social Media. He said that voluntary restraint is a hallmark of civilized society and works as effectively as any regulation. He suggested that a clear clause on users' voluntarily agreeing not to misuse social media platforms for election or political purposes should be considered by the management.

Election Commissioner Shri Sushil Chandra reminded the representatives that Election Commission of India is committed to ethical, free & fair elections. He reiterated that role of social media in helping spread information as well as curbing misinformation cannot be underestimated. He added that deterrents like some punitive action against users misusing the platform should be considered pro-actively. Shri Chandra said that a participative approach from the social media platforms would greatly help ECI meet its objectives.

The meeting was centred on discussing issues like appointment of dedicated grievance channel for expeditious action by the organizations, pre-certification and transparency in the expenditure of political advertisements. The meeting also focused on evolving a notification mechanism by social media platforms for acting upon the violations of Section 126 of R.P. Act, 1951 and preventing misuse of these platforms.

Today's meeting was attended by the industry head Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and representatives from social media organizations such as Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, Google, ShareChat, TikTok and BigoTV.

IAMAI and Social Media intermediaries willingly agreed to come up with a ‘Code of Ethics’ for the Industry laying down operational details by tomorrow evening.   

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