AIR SUMMARY 21th March

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By admin March 21, 2019 13:02

Voluntary Code of Ethics for Social Media

  • There is a 48 hour period before the day of elections where candidates are not allowed any kind of campaigning. But, it was seen for the past many years that during the last 48 hours, candidates used to post message on their personal accounts in the social media platforms.
  • Recently, the Election Commission has ruled that candidates will not be allowed to post on their accounts as they regarded part of public platform.
  • Lot of rich candidates had brought many advertisements on social media which helped them gain more publicity. But there was no accountability on the expense made directly by them or their friends on these advertisements.
  • To control the expenditure on advertisements beyond the permissible limits, the EC ruled that any advertisement given by any political party or politician would have to be pre-approved by the EC after which candidates would be allowed to publish those advertisements.
  • Once the advertisements are run on social media platforms, the platforms have to show all the details of that ad and also the expense made on that ad.
  • They would also show the previous history of the person or group on that page and the advertisements he has given in the past.
  • Section 126 of the EC code effectively mandates that the EC will identify the objectionable content and inform the non-state networks to remove it.

Benefits

  • It can monitor the political spending on social media.
  • Monitoring of usage of social media by the candidates through their official pages can be done.
  • The code of ethics might help the EC speed up its jobs of removing content from social media.

Challenges

  • There is no mechanism to control proxy advertising which are done in favour of political candidates by people affiliated to their parties.
  • This can be used by hostile neighbours or separatist elements which can publish such proxy advertisements and create discord between political parties which in turn can affect the peaceful conduct of elections.
  • It is also difficult to control the circulation of objectionable content on social media though social media platforms have agreed to take out content once it is brought into their notice.
  • But, the time taken by social media platforms is enough for such media to go viral.
  • Also by the time one platform takes it out, it would have gone viral in any other platform.
  • It is another challenge to decide what constitutes objectionable content.
  • It is also not possible to get hold of all the content circulating on social media.
  • Bigger platforms like Whatsapp cannot be monitored at all.
  • The US Presidential elections were said to have been influenced by Russia where Russians created thousands of social media accounts impersonating Americans and published information obtained through hacking which influenced the chances of one candidate against the other. The EC has not specified how such state sponsored agenda to subvert democratic election processes would be dealt with.

Way forward

  • There is a limit up to which EC can limit and monitor the content on social media platforms. The Government should bring up mechanisms to check fake news, flagging of content, monitoring of the platforms which require lots of resources like manpower and technology.
  • Artificial Technology can be used to plug such content easily.
  • Instead of relying on social media platforms to take down such content, there should be some mechanism to take down the content in real time.
  • Such technology should be supplemented by human supervision to decide whether it constitutes objectionable content.

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admin
By admin March 21, 2019 13:02