EC to plug loopholes to prevent misuse of social media ahead of Elections 2019

Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP, centre, government, Aam Aadmi Party, AAP, Somnath Bharti, EVM

To ensure that that social media isn’t misused in run-up to Lok Sabha polls, the Election Commission is looking at ways to plug loopholes and tighten regulations.

The Commission has set-up a panel to examine the growing use of platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook and Youtube and recommend ways to deal with violations, Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa said in an interview to the newswire Bloomberg . At least 24 people have been killed this year partly due to fake rumors spread on social media about child kidnappings and cow smuggling.

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“Fake news and paid news — all these are matters of concern when social media is being misused,” Lavasa, one of the three election commissioners, said in the interview. “We are looking at enforcing existing instructions and tightening regulations so that loopholes can be plugged.”

Globally too,countries are also trying to curb the misuse of social media in election campaigns. In Malaysia, former prime minister Najib Razak — dogged by corruption allegations — introduced a fake news law. Singapore and Philippines are also considering introducing legislation on fake news, while Germany introduced a new law that compels social media networks to remove hate speech.

Lawmakers from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party say they are not to blame for incidences of mob lynching triggered by spread of fake news and insist state governments must deal with anti-social elements.

The Election Commission has already begun preparations for the General Election 2019. About 87.5 crore voters are eligible to cast their votes to elect the federal government.

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