05:01 GMT26 November 2020
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    The Election Commission of India (ECI) is increasingly keeping an eye on social media platforms and their content to ensure fair conduct during the 2019 Parliamentary elections after reports of viral messages used to create fake news were reported in the run-up to the polls.

    New Delhi (Sputnik): With only a month remaining before the seven-phased nationwide polls for the Parliament begin, the Indian election watchdog Election Commission of India (ECI) has asked social media giants such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Tiktok to come up with a "Code of Ethics" similar to the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) in place for government institutions in the country during the campaign period before the polls begin.

    An Election Commission (ECI) team held a meeting today with representatives of social media platform to arrive upon a consensus to regulate the use of online mediums of interactions during the campaign. 

    READ MORE: Social Media Should be Held Responsible for Content on Their Sites — Law Expert

    "All the representatives agreed to do the same for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections as well as for the future," a press release by the ECI said after the meeting. 

    Apart from representatives from social media organisations, the meeting of ECI officials was attended by representatives of the Internet and Mobile Association of Code (IAMAI). The ECI had specifically called all major social media platforms operating in India to meet its officers to discuss the platform's violative social media content, ad policy and response time over complaints.
    "The meeting was centered on discussing issues like the appointment of a dedicated grievance channel for expeditious action by the organizations, pre-certification and transparency in the expenditure of political advertisements. The meeting also focused on evolving a notification mechanism by social media platforms for acting upon the violations of Section 126 of R.P. Act, 1951 (poll rules) and preventing misuse of these platforms," a release by the ECI said after the meeting. 
    IAMAI and Social Media intermediaries willingly agreed to come up with a ‘Code of Ethics' for the Industry laying down operational details by tomorrow evening, it added.
    The agenda note circulated to the companies before the meeting said that the ECI wanted to talk about creating a notification mechanism by the social media platforms. The mechanism will help the ECI notify the relevant platform of political violations of the poll conduct rules, PTI news agency said.

    The ECI also discussed action initiatives to prevent abuse and promote awareness programmes by these platforms. The issue of paid posts to be qualified as election expenses was also discussed, it added.

    READ MORE: Priyanka Gandhi's Entry Has Enhanced Political Discourse in India — Editor

    The parliamentary polls in India are slated to begin on April 11 and the results are scheduled to be delivered on May 23. The BJP, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and its allies are seeking a second term through the polls. 


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