Election Commission to formulate social media code, improve collaboration

Om Prakash Rawat, Election Commissioner of India (2)

Social media platforms which collaborate with the Election Commission will now have to follow a ‘code of conduct’ to ensure that their user data remains protected from manipulation which could adversely affect elections. Highly-placed sources in the poll panel said that the body’s social media unit met yesterday and decided to draft the ‘code of conduct’. The platforms which do not follow the proposed code will not get to partner with the EC. The decision was taken in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica episode.

Observing that utilisation of social media cannot be stopped due to instances of ‘aberrations’, Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat had said yesterday that Facebook would remain the poll panel’s social media partner during the Karnataka assembly elections. He also said the social media cell of the EC would go into the issue of App of politicians and political parties sharing user data without the users’ consent.

“Any aberration won’t stop the use of modern technology; banks frauds have taken place, but we don’t stop banking,” Rawat told a press conference while announcing the Karnataka assembly poll schedule. He was asked if the Facebook would continue to be the EC’s social media partner in the wake of reports that its user data had been harvested by a company without the users’ consent. The CEC said that the social media is a reality and the EC will take all precautions at its commend, to prevent episodes which adversely affect Indian elections.

The Facebook data scandal erupted after a whistleblower revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm with ties to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, accessed personal data from 50 million users of the website without their knowledge, and might have kept that data even after the social media giant told the company to delete it. The EC uses Facebook to encourage young people to enrol as voters.

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