Mobile Internet

Social media giants called up by Election Commission months before General Elections

Social Media apps on phone

General Elections in India are closing in by the minute. The parties are rallying hard and the winner takes it all. However, this year’s elections are different. Last time around, everything was about media on the television and rallies along with WhatsApp helping out a bit. This was in 2014, five years ago when Jio did not exist and 4G in India was a thing of luxury. Fast forward to 2019, the elections and the lead up is very different.

There is not just one campaign, there are campaigns within that one campaign. There are multiple platforms where the party and their motto could be advertised and hence there are multiple campaigns. People are more on the social media nowadays than they are out in the open. The rallies are also watched on social media as they are live streamed and opinion is also formed on social media. The debates are also taking place on social media as it is becoming clearer and clearer who is stronger and who is not.

Facebook and WhatsApp were going through a tumultuous time as misinformation as taking over these mediums. Twitter and Google were also having a hard time coping with the advertisements. That said, the Election Commission has called up all the social media giants for a discussion. Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, Sharechat and TikTok have been summoned by the high command. This will be a discussion about ads on the current election campaigns and also on the pre-certification of the same.

That said, the commission is going to check if the social media platforms are circulating the ads in a proper way. The social media members are supposed to keep up with the Media certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC). That is because this committee will decide if the ad is valid or not and that is the pre-certification which is needed to publish an ad on any platform.

The meeting is supposed to happen on March 19 and it might just be happening as you read this. This is, however, not the first time the social media behemoths are summoned by a government entity. The bunch was previously called up by a 31-member parliamentary panel where they were told in a very harsh way that social media platforms cannot act like traditional media houses. This is because the group of platforms does not have any accountability for the same.

That said, social media companies like Twitter have already been doing their part. They are working towards a cleaner and less aggressive campaigns. The ads on Twitter are present and are only seen by the people who look for it. Also, people have to provide identification before the advertisement is posted which brings down ads by a huge number.

That said, Social Media companies have been doing their part, EC will now help them understand the importance and guide them to do it in a better way.

-Unmesh Phule

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