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General Elections 2019: EC Summons Social Media Country Heads

General Elections 2019: EC Summons Social Media Country Heads

Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Google, Sharechat and TikTok representatives have been summoned

The meeting will take place on Tuesday (March 19)

EC will also discuss pre-certification of all political advertisements on social media platforms

In the days following the announcement by the Election Commission of India that social media companies will also follow the model code of conduct ahead of general elections, the EC has now summoned the country heads of six social media companies.

On Tuesday (March 19), representatives of Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Google, Sharechat and TikTok will reportedly meet the Election Commission on a six-point agenda for the meeting that includes “evolving mechanism by the social media platforms to prevent abuse on their platforms”.

EC will also discuss pre-certification of all political advertisement on social media platforms by the Media certification and Monitoring committee (MCMC) of the Election Commission. It also wants social media platforms to voluntary undertake information education and communication for their users about “unlawful conduct during election and in particular during prohibited period of 48 hours.”

The EC also wants the adoption of a general Code of Ethics by social media intermediaries.

Interestingly, the social media giants were also summoned by 31-member parliamentary panel where they told the social media companies they cannot operate like news media without accountability.

Before the EC summon, the social media companies have been doing their part to ensure transparency and control of fake news on their platforms. Here are the actions taken:

  • Facebook had ruled that an advertiser who wants to run an ad in India related to politics will need to first confirm their identity and location along with details about who placed the ad. It also launched its online searchable Ad Library for anyone to access. This library provides information about the person or group placing the ads.
  • Twitter brought its Ads Transparency Centre (ATC) to India to allow anyone across the world to view details about twitter ads, with comprehensive details such as ad spend, reach, payment information and targeted demographics.
  • WhatsApp limited the forwarding of messages to five people along with a forwarded label. It has also followed campaigns to make users aware of the misinformation that is being shared on the platform.
  • Google announced its plans to support journalists covering the elections by training them in partnership with DataLeads and Internews under its Google News Initiative. To be hosted across 30 cities in the next two months, the training will be given in multiple languages
  • TikTok app has put in place protective measures to remove unsuitable content, combining content moderation technology with a human moderation team based in over 20 countries and regions now cover 36 languages.
  • ShareChat took up a cleanliness drive for pornographic, violent and fake content after reports showcased toxic content on such platforms.

The seven-phase polls national election will start April 11 and continue till May 19, with vote count scheduled for May 23. Beyond the battle of political parties, this election will be a huge play for the social media companies.‘

[The development was reported by NDTV.]