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Paid news on social media a challenge, feel experts

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: March 28, 2019  | 23:03 IST

New Delhi, Mar 28 (PTI) Experts at a panel discussion here flagged the challenge of paid news on the social media and suggested that the Election Commission's social media code needs to be strengthened . The panel discussion on political campaigning on social media and issues of paid news was organised on Thursday. IAS officer K Mahesh, who is the District Election Officer (East), flagged the issue of misuse of social media, print media and electronic media by the political parties in the form of "concealed" campaign for the election. He also suggested that there was a need after the 2014 general polls to formulate a policy on the use of social media during the election campaign. "The Internet and Mobile Association of India has developed a voluntary code of ethics for all the participating social media platforms to ensure free, fair and ethical usage of their platforms to maintain integrity of electoral process," he said. "The voluntary code of ethics is applicable for the period of 48 hours before poll begins and provides guidelines for the removal of content within three hours, should not the three-hour period of removal be applied to offensive contents and the contents violating model code of conduct beyond those 48 hours," he asked. The cyber space does not conform to the geographic or political boundaries, so the artificial intelligence based engines of the social media players needs to use the robust technology to flag such content, he added. The officer had sent a show-cause notice to two newspapers for publishing ads of a biopic on Prime Minister Narendra and had issued a notice to a sitting MLA here who had posted his own photographs with that of wing commander Abhinandan on Facebook and on Twitter immediately after the Balakot strikes. The MLA had then removed the post. "There also exists a big void in the electoral rules and law in case the offensive content is posted through proxy accounts/volunteers. As of now there is no well-defined provision or punitive action available to authorities in order to deter such activities. This continues to be a big challenge which is largely untouched by the Voluntary Code of Ethics," the officer said. Delhi's Chief Electoral Officer Ranbir Singh also stressed on monitoring of the paid news and campaigning through social media, electronic media and print media. He stressed on the need for a system through which issues on social media can come into notice quickly and can be removed within no time. Former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi said the poll expenditure by the political parties and candidates and anonymity of the handling of campaigning are the main issues are to be taken note of. Lok Sabha elections will begin on April 11 and will be held over seven phases followed by counting of votes on May 23. PTI SLB CK

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