Social media platforms present India's Election Commission with 'Voluntary Code of Ethics for the General Elections 2019'
- Social media platforms in India and the Internet Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) submitted a Voluntary Code of Ethics to the
Election Commissionof India today evening.
- The 'Çode of Ethics’ is a voluntary mechanism to help conduct transparent and fair elections in India.
- Ít will be enforced starting today.
The purpose of this code is to identify measures that participants can put in place to increase confidence in the electoral process.
Chief Election Commissioner, Sunil Arora, expressed his appreciation while outlining the importance of social media platforms to follow the code in letter and in spirit starting today.
In yesterday’s meeting between the social media platforms in India, IAMAI and the ECI, Ashok Lavasa — one of the election commissioners — said that “voluntary restraint is a hallmark of civilised society and works are effectively as any regulation.”
And, it’s not just social media platforms that have to be careful. Lavasa suggested that users should also be subject to a clear voluntary clause agreeing not to misuse online platforms already of the elections or for political purposes.
In order to ensure that social media giants like Facebook don’t repeat what happened during the Cambridge Analytica data breach — where the data of 87 million users was harvested and used for political purposes without their consent — the code also has a provision for the ECI to enact a notification mechanism for when there’s a violation Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 on any of the platforms.
It basically implies that in the 48 hours leading up to the conclusion of polls in a constituency, any election content shouldn’t circulate on television or similar apparatus — like social networking sites.
While the 'Code of Ethics’ is relevant for platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Google — TikTok has already clarified that it doesn’t any advertisements on its platform in India. And, it’s not like any political party has an account on the app either.
The general elections in India are set to kick off on April 11 and will go on till May 19 after which the vote count is scheduled for May 23. Considering that over one-third of India’s 1.3 billion population has access to an internet connection, warding off political bias on online platforms in primarily going to depend on the capability of social media companies to monitor content.