Fighting fake news: can social media be kept on a leash?

  1. Social media platform Facebook has said that the company is assessing risk across its platforms to help ensure that the Lok Sabha election was free from interference from both foreign and domestic.
  2. Facebook had focussed on key areas which includes (a)blocking and removing fake accounts (b)fighting the spread of misinformation (c)stopping abuse by domestic actors (d)spotting attempts at foreign meddling and (e)taking action against inauthentic coordinated campaigns.
  3. Recently,Bombay High Court had also said that the social media platforms are expected to follow the voluntary code of ethics that had been developed by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).The code of ethics had also been accepted by the Election Commission.
  4. The voluntary code of ethics establishes high-priority communication channel between the nodal officers designated by the ECI and Social media platforms.The nodal officers will report the violations under Section 126 of the Representation of the People’s Act (RPA).These complaints will be processed within 3 hours of violations reported.
  5. Further,Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act (RPA) is incapable of regulating social media as it was enacted in 1996 when the problem did not surfaced.
  6. Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act,1951 imposes election silence period which prohibits any form of election campaign in the last 48 hours leading up to voting.It gives voters a peaceful condition to consider and make a final decision on their vote.