To curb abuse of social media platforms in the upcoming general election, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has asked them to frame a general code of ethics.
The code would be similar to Model Code of Conduct laid down operational details by today evening, as per ECI statement. Social media firms and industry body IAMAI agreed to draft the code of ethics in the immediate context.
A clear clause on users’ voluntarily agreeing not to misuse social media platforms for election should be considered, recommended Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa.
Besides, the ECI also asked these firms to come up with deterrents to handle online offenders. It also emphasised the importance of creating a notification mechanism by social media platforms. The mechanism will help the ECI notify the relevant platform of political violations of Section 126 of the RP Act, 1951.
In the meeting, issues like appointment of dedicated grievance channel for expeditious action by the organizations, pre-certification and transparency in the expenditure of political advertisements were also discussed.
Social media platforms including Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, Google, ShareChat, TikTok, BigoTV and IAMAI were present in the meeting.
Last week, the ECI had issued a first takedown notice to Facebook. It asked the social site to remove two political posters with Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s photograph, shared by BJP leader and Delhi MLA Om Prakash Sharma.
Facebook, in response, had demanded a specific legal provision to remove the posters. This led to confusion among social platforms regarding EC’s notifications.