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Social Media Giants to Flag Fake News During Poll Campaigning: EC

  

New Delhi: The Election Commission would be working closely with Facebook, Google and Twitter during the forthcoming Assembly and 2019 Lok Sabha elections to keep an eye on political advertisements and publicity material on their platforms and block fake news, and defamatory and objectionable content, said news reports on Thursday. According to The Times of India, the trio has also agreed to observe a 48-hour “silence period” before polling. During this time, they would ensure that no political advertisements go online.

According to the report, the decision of the social media companies to screen and block negative political advertisements was voluntary and they had assured the EC that they would self-censor political content to identify partisan posts which can disturb a level-playing field or involve ‘negative campaigning, fake news, personal attacks and inflammatory content’.

It said that apart from blocking objectionable material and advertisements, they will also flag such content to the EC. This will be the practice for 12 of the 14-day campaigning window and political advertisements and posts will be prohibited in the 48 hours prior to polling. The daily quoted Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat as saying that “The EC’s interactions with the three social media companies are complete. The companies will have posts that involve healthy campaigning. The action shall be completely voluntary.”

The move follows EC’s decision to look at treating social media platforms as potential carriers of fake news which can influence polls. These platforms, like Twitter and WhatsApp, may be brought within the ambit of paid news, said a DNA report. As of now, there is no specific law against “paid news”. If such a law was to be enforced, every promoted tweet, post and video by political parties on any social media platform would be treated as paid news. Speaking to the daily, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) OP Rawat said, “There are several allegations in the world against social media platforms and they are subject to many probes. We are taking all steps to contain this so that our elections do not get influenced by it.”
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