New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) on Sunday evening announced the dates for the Lok Sabha Elections 2019. Apart from announcing the full schedule, the EC said that the social media campaigns of political parties and candidates will be closely monitored by them.

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora said that the EC will watch out for any content aimed at destroying the electoral process. Social media giants like- Facebook, Twitter and Google have said that they will work with the Election Commission in tandem to curb any sort of hate speech or misuse of content related to polling.

The EC has also asked Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to verify all the political advertisements coming from various political parties. The CEC also informed that a grievance officer has also been appointed to take complaints related to these advertisements on all social media platforms.

“Social media(SM) expert is also going to be part of Media Certification and Monitoring Committee; candidates are required to furnish details of SM accounts; all expenditure on SM campaigning to be part of election expenditure account,” said CEC Sunil Arora.

EC requires candidates to furnish details of their social media accounts and they also need to share their expenditure on social media ads. Besides, all provisions of the model code apply to online content.

The social media giants had made a written commitment to EC last year to help the poll panel regulate political campaigns on their platforms that are objectionable or in violation of the model code of conduct and laws of the country.

All the above firms have started awareness campaigns for their users, highlighting the EC’s activities in this regard.

The election will see about 900 million voters, up from 814.5 million in 2014. Of this, some 15 million will be first-time voters in the age group of 18 to 19 years.

Approximately 10 lakh polling stations, one lakh more than in 2014, will be set up and a total of 17.4 lakh VVPATs will be used with electronic voting machines (EVMs) in all polling stations, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora said in a press conference held at Vigyan Bhavan.

“The Election Commission has attempted a very comprehensive preparation for the conduct of the election”, he said. “The panel believes that purity of electoral roll is the foundation of fair elections,” Arora added.