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Social Media Cos Worried About Multiple Takedown Requests During Upcoming Elections

Social Media Cos Worried About Multiple Takedown Requests During Upcoming Elections

Earlier this month, ECI has asked social media companies to comply with code of ethics in upcoming state elections

The voluntary code of ethics were adopted by social media companies in the last Lok Sabha elections

This code has mandated social media platforms to takedown content based on election commission’s notice

Social media companies have reportedly told Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), that restrictions on social media political advertising 48-hours before the voting date should also include other internet companies.

According to a media report, which cited sources close to the development, the social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, Sharechat and others, are concerned about the volume of takedown notices they might have to handle in the wake of upcoming state elections in India. 

Earlier this month, Election Commission of India was reported to have asked the social media companies to comply with the code of ethics adopted by them during the last Lok Sabha elections.

The technology companies are now said to be worried that the Election Commission (EC) might extend these voluntary code of ethics to municipal and panchayat elections too. 

“Broadly, most of the companies don’t want to do training for state EC officials on how to spot misinformation, how to report them, send notices; nor do they want to be answerable to them.” a source reportedly told ET. 

“The problem is there is no law or clarity, therefore so much confusion,” they added.

What Is Voluntary Code Of Ethics?

In order to curb the misuse of social media during the past general elections in the country, the EC summoned the country heads of social media companies including — Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Google, Helo, TikTok and ShareChat to discuss the introduction of a voluntary “code of ethics”, along the lines of Model Code of Conduct during elections.

Following this, in March 2019, the social media platforms and IAMAI submitted the “Voluntary Code of Ethicsfor the General Election 2019” to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra. 

With the submission of the “Voluntary Code of Ethics”, the companies have agreed to create a high priority dedicated reporting mechanism for the EC and appoint dedicated teams during the period of general elections for taking expeditious action on any reported violations.

They also agreed to provide a mechanism for political advertisers to submit pre-certified advertisements issued by media certification and monitoring committee. The Code of Ethics had also promised to facilitate transparency in paid political advertisements.