The Election Commission on Sunday announced that the Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19 and the counting of votes will be held on May 23. Also, the poll panel announced that the assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Odisha, and Arunachal Pradesh will be held simultaneously along with the Lok Sabha polls. However, the EC did not mention about holding assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir. As far as poll campaigning is considered, the model code of conduct and its pre-certified political advertisement rules will apply to the social media as well. The Election Commission has expressed its concern over the impact of fake news and inflammatory content on social media on poll outcomes.
"The Internet and Mobile Association of India, in consultation with the Election Commission, is formulating a set of code of ethics for intermediary online platforms. This is work in progress," said Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora.
To check for fake news, social media platforms have been asked to appoint officers and take action against offenders. These "grievance officers" will take "necessary and prompt actions against the contents published on their platforms", said Arora.
All major social media platforms — Facebook, Twitter, Google, WhatsApp 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. "The [Election] Commission has also asked that print and social media be brought within the ambit of Section 126(1) of the Representation of the People Act so that the concept of 'silence period' is honoured and opinion polls are restricted," he said.
However, there is no mention of WhatsApp by the ECI. There is an end-to-end encrypted in WhatsApp and the chats cannot be accessed.
No political party or candidate can display photographs of defence personnel on social media for campaigning purpose.