|EC issues guidelines on use of social media|
All content posted by political parties and election candidates on internet and social media websites like Facebook and twitter.com will now come under the scanner of the Election Commission after it today issued detailed instructions in this regard.
EC has directed all political parties and candidates to get their advertisements pre-certified by it before issuing them on social media websites.
It also asked the parties and candidates contesting the upcoming Assembly polls to provide details of their internet/ social media accounts along with a statement of expenditure incurred for creating them.
However, as to content posted by persons or entities other than candidates and political parties, EC said it was considering the matter in consultation with the government to find a practical way out.
Issuing detailed instructions in the matter ahead of Assembly polls in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Chhattisgarh, EC averred that the said steps were being taken in the interests of transparency and would provide a level-playing field.
"The 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," an EC order said today.
In a direction to the Chief Electoral Officers of all states and various political parties in the country, EC said, "No political advertisements are to be released on any internet-based media/websites, including social media websites, by political parties/candidates without pre- certification from competent authorities in the same format."
EC said that since social media websites came under electronic media, by definition, therefore, instructions for the latter would also apply "mutatis mutandis to websites including social media websites and shall fall under the purview of pre-certification".
"As far as the content posted by persons other than candidates and political parties is concerned, (we are) considering the matter in consultation with the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology on practical ways to deal with the issue," the poll body said.
EC also directed candidates and parties that they would have to include all expenses incurred during campaigning, including spending on advertisements on social media, in the statement of expenditure.
That would include payments to internet companies and websites for carrying advertisements and also campaign-related operational expenditure on creative development of content, operational expenditure on salaries and wages paid to the team of workers employed to maintain such social media accounts.
EC said candidates were required to file affidavits in Form-26 at the time of filing of nominations, providing details of their email IDs and authentic social media accounts.
The poll watchdog said that the prevalence of web and social media had increased over the years and there have been demands from political and social groups to regulate social media during elections the way every other media format is.
EC regulations would henceforth apply to all kinds of social media like collaborative projects (Wikipedia, etc.), blogs and micro blogs (like twitter.com), content communities (like YouTube), social networking sites (like Facebook) and virtual game-worlds (like Apps).