Campaigning far from over on social networks

Major political parties officially stopped advertisements on social media and commercial websites to toe the Election Commission guidelines, but online campaigns appeared to continue on the sly on Tuesday.

“We are monitoring the use of social media to check illegal campaigning ahead of voting,” Delhi Chief Electoral Officer Vijay Dev said.

But on Tuesday, Twitter was abuzz with #Vote4AamAadmiParty and #AAPSweepingDelhi. People reported getting group emails from individuals suspected to be connected with parties in the fray. 

For instance, many people in south Delhi got a mail from ‘Dr Saheb Fan’ with the subject ‘We want Dr Saheb for Delhi’ — perhaps a reference to BJP chief ministerial candidate Harsh Vardhan. 

The social media is also full of with political posters and euphemistic material posted by users, including political workers. 

Covert and proxy wars among politicians are also a highlight of the phenomena that social media is, with Facebook and Twitter occupying a crucial space in the social media ecosystem. 

“One can regulate content posted by political parties and candidates, but it is difficult to put regulation on people’s expression,” former Chief Election Commissioner of India S Y Quraishi said on whether legal provisions for social media campaigns are comprehensive. 

“It is difficult to regulate social media, but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do it,” he said. “It is important to control and regulate expenditure on internet campaigns.”

Many political parties hired digital media companies to handle their online campaigns. For the first time, the Election Commission this year asked for a detailed expenditure records and disclosure of all authentic social media accounts from political parties and candidates. 

Sometimes, individual candidates also hire the services of social media companies, said Siddharth Puri, a young digital media entrepreneur. 

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