EC to vet online poll campaigns

Internet advertisements have to be pre-certified by panel

EC to vet online poll campaigns

Political parties and their candidates will have to provide an account of every penny spent on the use of social media for election campaigning.

The Election Commission (EC) of India on Friday issued guidelines to regulate campaigns on collaborative projects (Wikipedia), blogs and micro-blogs (Twitter), content communities (YouTube), social networking sites (Facebook) and virtual game worlds.

Acknowledging that the social media will become a popular platform during campaigning, the EC directed all political parties and candidates to get their advertisements pre-certified by it before using them on the social media. 

It also directed the parties and candidates to provide details of their social media accounts along with a statement of expenditure incurred while creating them. The candidates will have to submit an affidavit mentioning the details of their social networking accounts and email IDs while filing their nominations. 

The EC said it was holding consultations with the government regarding content posted by people or entities other than the candidates and political parties.

“Legal provisions relating to election campaigning apply to social media in the same manner in which they apply to any other form of election campaigning using any other media,” said the commission in its instructions sent to all state electoral officers.

Issuing a detailed instruction ahead of the Assembly elections in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Chhattisgarh, the commission said the steps were being taken to ensure transparency and provide a level-playing field to all.

“Provisions of the model code of conduct and related instructions issued from time to time shall also apply to the content being posted on the Internet, including social media websites, by candidates and political parties,” said the EC order.

“No political advertisements are to be released on any internet-based media/websites, including social media websites, by political parties/candidates without pre-certification by competent authorities in the same format,” said the commission.

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