Social Media Ethics’ Code By Wednesday

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New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) here on Tuesday urged internet companies, including social media platforms, to come up with a model code document for themselves on the lines of the model code of conduct for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections as well as for the future.

They, in turn, agreed to come up with a code of ethics, which would lay down the operational rules for the industry by Wednesday, the poll panel said.

The announcement came after the EC officials’ meeting with representatives of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) as well as social media organisations, including Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, Google, ShareChat, TikTok and BigoTV.

Sources said the poll panel has called another meeting on Wednesday.

During the meeting, they took up the issues of misuse of social media during elections and pre-certification of political advertisements.

They also discussed ways to curb fake news, improve transparency in political parties’ expenditure on online advertising and set up a dedicated grievance channel for expeditious action by organisations on reported violations.

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora said the model code of conduct was a unique document prepared through consensus between the political parties and the poll panel.

“It is followed by all political parties from the date of declaration of schedule of elections till the election process is concluded,” he said.

Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa asked social media platforms to consider a clear clause on users’ voluntarily agreeing not to misuse them for election or political purposes.

“Voluntary restraint is a hallmark of civilised society and works as effectively as any regulation,” he said.

Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra also suggested social media platforms to consider deterrents to prevent misuse of the platform.

Chandra said a participative approach by the platforms would greatly help the EC meet its objectives.

After the meeting, Berges Y. Malu, Policy Head of ShareChat, said the company reaffirmed its commitment with the CEC. “We look forward to working with the Election Commission to uphold the integrity and legality of social media campaigns by political parties on our platform,” he said.