With upcoming five state election and the general election to be held in 2014, political parties and leaders are pouring into social media wagon to reach out the youth, the big margin of Indian voters. Sighting this Indian election commission to bring up transparency and level playing field in the elections, has issued instructions for political parties and candidates to use Social Media in election campaigning.

Election commission has broadly classified social media to five different types – collaborative projects (like Wikipedia), blogs and micro blogs (like Twitter), content communities (like YouTube, Yahoo Video), Social networking sites (like Facebook and Google Plus) and finally virtual game-worlds (like Apps).

Election Commission issues Guidelines on use of Social Media in Election Campaigning

Major inputs from the guideline –

  • Candidates appearing for election need to provide details of their social media accounts to file affidavits in Form-26 at the time of filing of nominations.
  • Candidates need to get pre-certification of political advertisements from Election Commission before getting distributed through social media.
  • Candidates and political parties need to provide all expenditure on campaigning, including expenditure on advertisements on social media, both for maintaining a correct account of expenditure and for submitting the statement of expenditure. This expenditure includes payments made to internet companies and websites for carrying advertisements and also campaign related operational expenditure on making of creative development of content, operational expenditure on salaries and wages paid to the team of workers employed by such candidates and political parties to maintain their social media accounts, etc.
  • The provisions of model code of conduct and related instructions of the Commission issued from time to time shall also apply to the content being posted on the internet, including social media websites, by candidates and political parties
  • When considering the content posted by individual persons other than candidates and political parties, 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, or can be reasonably connected with, the election campaigning of political parties and candidates.

All legal provisions relating to election campaigning apply to social media in the same manner in which they apply to any other form of election campaigning using any other media.

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