New Delhi: With an eye on the forthcoming elections in some states and the Lok Sabha elections set for the next year, the Election Commission (EC) is looking at treating social media platforms as potential carriers of fake news which can influence polls. These platforms, like Twitter and WhatsApp, may be brought within the ambit of paid news, said a DNA report on Friday. (Also read: ‘70% Political Parties Want Ballot Paper System Back’)

As of now, there is no specific law against “paid news”. If such a law was to be enforced, every promoted tweet, post and video by political parties on any social media platform would be treated as paid news.
Speaking to the daily, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) OP Rawat said, “There are several allegations in the world against social media platforms and they are subject to many probes. We are taking all steps to contain this so that our elections do not get influenced by it.”

On whether the EC was planning to treat social media at par with general media, Rawat said, “We are also considering it. So far, we have tried to ensure that no harm is caused to our elections through social media.” He said social media platforms had committed to the EC expert committee that any such material that could adversely affect elections will not be on be put up. “It will remain in force from the time Model Code of Conduct comes into effect till the time of declaration of results,” he said.

Elsewhere, Rawat was quoted by Hindustan Times as saying, “The committee of cyber experts is preparing a report after holding a discussion with all political parties. The media certification monitoring committee will work and take action on paid news.”

Meanwhile, former CECs were also apprehensive of the increasing influence of social media and the inability to control it. Former CEC, HS Brahma was quoted thus, “The election-related news on social media should be treated as paid news. The EC should be more aggressive. If need be, the EC should approach the top court.”

Former CEC VS Sampath said India should prevail over them to locate their servers in India. “When it comes to enforcement of election laws, we have to be ruthless. To make them fall in line, we should even be ready to shut them off during the election period,” he said.