Kochi: As the country switches on to election mode with political parties and candidates’ PR managers depending more on social media than traditional campaign methods, the Election Commission has issued strict guidelines on using it. Compared to earlier elections, this will be biggest ever test on the role of social media like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram in elections.
When unleashing the array of social media weapons, political parties have to ensure that the content does not violate the election code of conduct as the Chief Election Commissioner has made it clear that all provisions of model code of conduct were applicable to the content being posted on social media. Even bulk SMS and voice messages used for campaigning will also come under the purview of social media.
District collectors, while briefing election guidelines, stipulated that content for social media campaign should get approval from the district level Media Certification and Monitoring Committee, before being posted. The State and district level Media Certification and Monitoring Committees which will now scrutinise the social media messages along with the content being used for electronic, radio advertisements.
Candidates have to have to submit details of their social media account (if any) at the time of filing of nominations and expenditure incurred on social media campaigning will be included within the total campaign expenditure.
Major political parties have constituted dedicated teams of social media campaigners who plan, prepare and initiate discussions.
The KPCC Digital Media Cell has three zonal teams based at Thiruvanant-hapuram, Thrissur and Kozhikode which coordinate and monitor functioning of cyber workers.
Raju Nair, core committee member of Digital Media Cell of KPCC told this newspaper that the party leadership has given strict instruction on handling the social media campaign.
“Encouraging decent political discourse is our main motto. Addressing the fake news and information on distorted history of the Congress and the Indian politics in general propagated by the BJP and the Left parties is our major responsibility. The KPCC leadership has made it clear that if any social media campaigner is found to be engaged in spreading fake news or indecent debate, the onus will be solely on them and the party will not take responsibility,” he said....