New Delhi, Oct. 25: Content posted by political parties and candidates on social media sites and elsewhere on the Internet has been brought under the model code of conduct, underscoring the medium’s growing influence as an election tool.
Under guidelines issued by the Election Commission today, parties and candidates will have to give details of their Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts used for campaigning, along with statements of expenses incurred on them.
The norm under which all political ads in the electronic and print media must be vetted by the commission has been extended to such sites.
The commission has, for the time being, not included Internet content posted by persons other than candidates and parties in the code.
The panel said it was still trying to figure out “practical ways to deal with the issue” and the other entities could be included in the future if their content related to political parties and candidates.
“As far as content posted by persons other than candidates and political parties is concerned, the commission is considering the matter in consultation with the ministry of communication and information technology on practical ways to deal with the issue, in so far as they relate to election campaigning of political parties and candidates,” the commission said in its order.
But on content posted by parties and candidates, the panel made it clear that rules on campaigning apply to the Internet in the same manner as they cover any other media.
The guidelines classified social media into five categories — collaborative projects (Wikipedia is an example), blogs and micro blogs (Twitter), content communities (YouTube), social networking sites (Facebook) and virtual game-worlds (Apps).
Under the guidelines, it will be mandatory for parties and candidates to provide details of their social media accounts and the email IDs in affidavits submitted to the commission for elections. “The commission finds it necessary that authentic social media accounts of candidates should be informed to the commission,” the order said.
For Web advertisements, parties and candidates will have to apply to the commission or its designated officers for pre-certification, like they do in other cases.
“You are, therefore, requested to ensure that no political advertisements are released to any Internet based media/websites, including social media websites, by political parties/candidates without pre-certification from competent authorities,” the order, sent to chief electoral officers in states, said.
Money spent on Web campaigns must be included in the statement of overall poll expenses required to be submitted to the commission.
“For the sake of removing any ambiguity, candidates and political parties shall include all expenditure on campaigning including expenditure on advertisement in social media,” the order said.