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Mandate regarding online campaigning (e-campaigning)

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Mandate regarding online campaigning (e-campaigning)

The mandate of the Election Commission regarding online election campaign (e-campaigning) with social media companies is issued.

  • Recently, due to the ongoing pandemic outbreak in the country and the associated health risks, the Election Commission has banned physical rallies till January 15 for the upcoming state assembly elections. Also, the Commission has allowed virtual campaigns through social media platforms.
  • Social media has emerged as an important medium of election campaigns with billions of users on platforms like Facebook, YouTube etc.

Benefits of e-campaigning

  • Promote open dialogue through direct communication between leaders and voters.
  • Establishing relationships beyond campaigning i.e. sharing information from policies to all aspects of personal life. This also gives the option of direct contact with the voters.
  • Benefiting new candidates into politics by providing equal opportunities and wider access.

Related concerns:

  • Monitoring of e-campaigns is a difficult task due to the limited resources available with the Election Commission and the diversity of social media platforms.
  • Social media platforms may favor a specific party. They can give more importance to the content of one political party than the content of other parties through their algorithms.
  • The risk of inequality has increased because of the importance of money and contacts to increase reach on social media.

Other Concerns: Difficulty in monitoring proxy candidates used by political parties; Control of hate campaigns, fake news and privacy of users etc.

Current Regulation in India:

  • The candidates are required to submit the authentic details of social media account at the time of enrollment. The rules for pre-certification of political advertisements also apply to social media platforms. The provisions of the Model Code of Conduct also apply to posted content.
  • Social media expenditure also has to be included in the final expenditure statement on advertising. A social media cell has been set up by the Election Commission of India for monitoring.

Source – The Hindu

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