Political parties and candidates who thought they could get away with ‘no holds barred’ campaigning on social media websites, think again.
The election commission (EC) on Friday issued guidelines to monitor political campaigning on websites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Wikipedia ahead of upcoming assembly elections in five states.
The candidates will have to declare their social media accounts when they file nominations for the elections, according to a document release by the EC. All political parties will also be required to get their social media advertisements pre-certified by the panel before posting them online.
The panel directed the parties to account for payments made to social media websites for carrying advertisements, expenditure on development of content, and spends on salaries for staff hired to maintain social media accounts of parties and candidates. The model code of conduct would apply to content being posted on the internet, the panel said.
“The commission’s attention was drawn to use of social media for election campaigning and also certain violations of the electoral law in the social media, which need to be regulated in the interest of transparency and level playing field in the elections,” a the document read.
While stating that social media websites were ‘electronic media’ by definition, the EC classified the web portals into five categories: collaborative projects (eg, Wikipedia); blogs and micro blogs (eg, Twitter); content communities (eg, YouTube); social networking sites (eg, Facebook); virtual game-worlds (eg, apps).
The guidelines also made a mention of netizens who were not associated with any political outfit.
“As far as the content posted by persons other than candidates and political parties is concerned, the commission is considering the matter in consultation with the ministry of communication and information technology on practical ways to deal with the issue, in so far as they relate to, or can be reasonably connected with, the election campaigning of political parties and candidates,” the EC directed.