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EC issues guidelines on poll ads in social media

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With political parties using social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook in a big way for campaigning in Lok Sabha polls, Election Commission has issued detailed guidelines for political advertisements on such platforms that include obtaining certification for contents before putting them in public domain.

The Election Commission has also asked the social networking sites to maintain expenditure incurred by the political parties and individual candidates on advertisements so that they can be produced to the Commission when requested for.

In separate letters to major social networking sites on Tuesday, the Commission directed them to ensure that the content displayed by them during the electoral process was not “unlawful or malicious or violative of the model code of conduct.”

It said the guidelines to the social media have been issued as part of the Commission’s broad efforts to address the problem of paid news.

All major political parties have been using the social networking sites as part of their campaign strategy, particularly to woo the young voters. In the recent Delhi Assembly polls, the Aam Aadmi Party had used Facebook and Twitter in a big way to draw support for itself.

Director in Election Commission Dhirender Ojha said the directive of the Commission will be applicable to a range of internet-based social media which include Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Wikipedia.

“We have told the social networking sites to take pre-certification from Media Certification and Monitoring Committees at district and State levels,” he said while addressing a workshop on media’s role in the electoral process.

He said it was part of Commission’s efforts to address the problem of paid news.

The commission has already issued directions for providing details of social media accounts by the candidates while filing their nominations.

Mr. Ojha said it was mandatory for political parties and individual candidates to keep details of expenditure incurred on advertisement in social media. He said the expenses will be accounted for in the total expenditure incurred by the candidates.

He said the guidelines for the social networking sites for political advertisements have been finalised after a series of meetings with them by the Election Commission.

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