With Maharashtra Assembly Elections around the corner, Social Samosa takes a look at the steps taken by Facebook for fair play.
Even as newspapers are filling up with information on political rallies across the state and news channels are broadcasting views of relevant persons across the spectrum, there is something about the Maharashtra Assembly Elections this year that differ it from the ones before. The use of social media has become relevant enough for the government bodies to keep track of flag issues on the way.
Code of Ethics
Before the Lok Sabha Elections this year, certain Code of Ethics were agreed upon by the Election Commission of India (ECI), Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and representatives of social media platforms including Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Google, ShareChat and TikTok. The idea was to add transparency to political advertisements on social media and make it easier for the election body to report discrepancies.
According to Facebook, the same is being followed in the state elections as well. While the ECI can notify Facebook of potential violations of electoral laws like the silence period during elections. The media giant, on its part, will take action on valid legal requests.
Political Ads Transparency
In December 2018, Facebook had launched a Political ad transparency tool to help users get a better understanding of the political ads they consume. Anyone who wants to run an ad in India related to politics has to first confirm their identity and location. Details about who paid for the ad or published the ad also have to be given. These are then put up on the ad post with a disclaimer by Facebook.
Anyone can go and read up about these ad and related details on the Ad Library of the page. These are documented in a way that they will remain searchable for seven years. If in some case, an ad was taken down by the platform due to discrepancy or violation, that information too can be accessed here.
Working with politicos
Facebook works with regional political parties as well as the regional units of national parties in the election going states. Attempts are made to deepen their outreach to the grassroots level and sensitize key stakeholders about Facebook’s advertising policies and community standards.
Recently, Facebook conducted training sessions for Jharkhand BJP, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee, BJP Maharashtra, Shiv Sena and the NCP in Mumbai. Following these training several candidates from these parties now have a verified presence our platform, says the platform.
Cyber Security Guide for stakeholders
As a part of the election integrity efforts, the ‘Facebook Cyber Security Guide for Politicians and Political Parties’ was shared with key stakeholders and 850+ policymakers. These included all Indian Parliamentarians, Chief Ministers of different states and all Chief Electoral Officers appointed by the Election Commission of India.
In this guide, Facebook explained the various aspects of cybersecurity that are relevant to public representatives in the social media space. The idea was to help them understand ways to secure the online presence of politicians and political parties as well as the data of the people who have access to reliable information and diverse perspectives.
Something for voters
One of the key goals taken up Facebook, in regards to elections, is to promote civic participation. As a part of this, the platform will be reminding all users turning 18 to register for voting. On the voting day, Facebook will be running reminders and encourage voters to share their experiences, nudging others. This is being done in English, Hindi as well as Marathi.