The Election Commission of India today held a meeting with representatives of various social media platforms to hammer out a mechanism for curbing misinformation on social media ahead of the Lok Sabha polls next month. They are expected to meet again on Wednesday to "voluntarily" come up with a draft "code of ethics" aimed at preventing abuse of the Internet during election season, a release issued by the poll body said.
The decision was taken after Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora suggested that social media platforms come up with a set of rules similar to the Model Code of Conduct to ensure that polling is insulated from external influence.
Representatives of seven social media players -- Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Google, Sharechat, Bigo TV and Tiktok -- attended the meeting at the Election Commission headquarters in New Delhi. They were given seven minutes each to present their plans before the poll body.
Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa appreciated the social media platforms' move to exercise "voluntary retraint", saying that such initiatives -- which work as effectively as any regulation -- are the hallmark of civilised society. The possibility of taking punitive action action against those found misusing social media platforms also came up at the meeting.
Among other measures, the poll body suggested that social media platforms voluntarily inform users about the consequences of indulging in unlawful conduct during the elections. The participants also discussed the formation of a "notification" mechanism to flag violation of Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act-1951, which prohibits advertising and campaigning on the electronic media during the 48-hour "silent period" before voting day.
The Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, with the votes being counted on May 23.