The model code of conduct and its pre-certified political advertisement rules will apply to the social media as well.
Chief election commissioner Sunil Arora said all major social media platforms — Facebook, Twitter, Google, WhatsApp and Share Chat — are committed to accepting only pre-certified political advertisements, sharing expenditure on it with the Election Commission (EC) and adhering to the “silence period” that comes into effect 48 hours before the polls. “All the provisions of model code of conduct shall also apply to the content being posted on the social media by candidates and political parties,” the EC said as it announced the 2019 Lok Sabha poll schedule. The EC has also decided to bring the bulk SMSes/Voice messages on phone and election campaigning through social media under the purview of precertification of election advertisements, just like electronic and radio advertisements.
The district and state-level media certification and monitoring committees, which vets all electronic and radio advertisements during the model code period, will now also have a social media expert on board to ensure that such campaign materials do not slip in without scrutiny.
The EC further said that candidates will have to submit details of their social media account (if any) at the time of filing of nominations. The expenditure incurred on social media campaigning by them will be included within their limit of election expenditure, the poll body said.
Even payments made to internet companies and websites for carrying advertisements and campaignrelated operational expenditure on making creative content, salaries and wages paid to the workers employed to maintain their social media account, will have to be accounted for with the EC.
The election expenditure ceiling is largely Rs 70 lakh for candidates contesting Lok Sabha elections, except in Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Sikkim where it is Rs 54 lakh.