Social media accounts of candidates and political parties will come under the scanner of the office of the chief electoral officer during the Lok Sabha elections and the by-polls to Mandrem, Shiroda and Mapusa constituencies.
The use of social media will be looked upon from the angle of campaign expenditure. Hence the candidates and the political parties will have to obtain from media certification and monitoring committees pre-certification of the content for the campaign on social media.
The pre-certification will also have to be obtained for political advertisements in the print and electronic media before their publication. “The MCMCs have been formed at the district election-officer level for candidates and at the state-level in the CEO office for political parties for issuing pre-certification and monitoring the campaign material,” said a senior officer of the CEO office.
If certain promotional campaign materials are not approved of at the DEO level then the candidate can appeal at the state-level committee, which will examine the same and take a decision
The officer said the campaign expenditure for the candidates and the political parties will also include payments made to online companies or websites for carrying advertisements and also campaign-related operational expenses on creative art, development of content in picture or video form, salaries and the wages paid to workers employed by the candidates and the political parties to maintain their social media accounts.
He said that candidates have to mandatorily provide the details of their social media accounts at the time of filing of nomination papers. Thereafter all their accounts will be under the MCMC radar.
“Monitoring WhatsApp accounts of candidates will be a tough job as compared to keeping a watch on other social networking sites likes Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram,” the officer admitted, adding that IT experts are roped in to undertake this task.