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Constant social media monitoring to check fake news: EC

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Says would not hesitate in taking legal action

New Delhi: The Election Commission on Friday said its teams will constantly monitor social media platforms to check fake news in the upcoming assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh and respond immediately as it asserted it will not hesitate in taking criminal action wherever required.

Announcing the dates for Himachal Pradesh assembly polls, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar said the panel has “established social media teams to keep strict vigil on fake news being spread during elections. Social media will be monitored constantly and any fake news would be acted upon immediately penal actions can be taken too”.

Addressing a press conference, Kumar said keeping in view increasing incidents of “misuse of social media”, social media platforms agreed to observe Voluntary Code of Ethics formulated by them in March, 2019.

Citing an example of fake news about EVMs during elections, Kumar said the commission works so hard to conduct free and fair polls and then a particular news comes up and all leads to all kind of narratives.

“Social media would be monitored. They (teams) all have been directed to respond immediately before its gets the traction… It becomes explosive. And if 30 minutes have gone then there is no point in answering this because damage is done. They have all been asked to be very very vigilant and respond with facts,” he said while responding to a question on social media.

He further said teams have been instructed to respond immediately.

“If they can’t respond with facts in 15-20 minutes then reply by saying we have seen this we are finding facts and we will come back. So that they join that thing immediately and they break that cycle, before it goes out of hands,” Kumar added.

On the question of action, the CEC said, “There are criminal action possibilities which originate out of various legislative frameworks under the IPC and under the various acts we will not hesitate in taking those action, wherever IPC or other section violation is involved. We have made it clear to everybody and we will enforce this.”

Kumar said the commission also requests all political parties and candidates to ensure that their supporters “do not indulge in hate speeches and fake news.” And also keep strict watch on social media posts to ensure that the election atmosphere is not vitiated.

He also added that media can also play an active role in curbing the menace of fake news.


Press Trust of India

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