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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 02 November, 2022

  • 6 Min Read

Social Media Impact on elections

Social Media Impact on Elections

  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) recently sponsored an international conference for Election Management Bodies (EMBs) under the auspices of the United States' "Summit for Democracy." The Chief Election Commissioner spoke at the conference.
  • The commissioner asked social media platforms to use their "algorithm power" to proactively flag bogus news while officially opening the meeting.

What worries exist in regard to the dissemination of false information?

  • Red-Herring: All of the major social media platforms' content moderation-driven strategy to countering misinformation is a red herring meant to draw attention away from the much more serious issue of amplified dissemination of misinformation as a component of revenue models.
  • Social media platforms' opacity Social media platforms, which are largely controlled by a small group of people, are rapidly being used as the main forum for public dialogue.
  • The lack of transparency displayed by social media platforms is one of the largest obstacles to eradicating false information.
  • Inadequate Actions: Different social media platforms have failed to develop a cogent structure to combat false information, instead reacting haphazardly to news stories and public pressure.
  • The information ecology was poisoned by a lack of a consistent baseline strategy, enforcement, and accountability.
  • False Information Weaponization: In order to serve powerful entrenched interests' political and financial objectives, social media platforms have chosen design decisions that have mainstreamed false information.
  • The unrestricted flow of misinformation, hatred, and targeted intimidation that resulted has harmed real people and weakened India's democracy.
  • Vaccine hesitation, entrenched societal polarisation, and physical violence have all been related to misinformation disseminated through social media platforms.
  • The National Education Policy 2020 is a squandered chance to include media literacy in the curriculum due to the prevalence of digital media illiteracy among children.
  • Social media literacy is completely ignored in the document, despite the fact that "digital literacy" is mentioned only once.
  • Given that social media is the main source of kids' literacy, this is a big issue.
  • Threats arising from Anonymity: The most well-known use of anonymity is to avoid having one's opinions associated with a real person in the offline world or to tell the truth against vengeful governments.
  • While this can enable someone express their opinions without feeling insecure on the one hand, it does greater harm because the user can distribute incorrect information to any amount without being held accountable.

What Benefits and Drawbacks Does Social Media Have for Elections?

Pros:

  • Manifestos for planning
  • In recent years, the organisation of political rallies and party manifestos has placed an increasing emphasis on digital techniques.
  • And so far, a tweet survey has taken the place of the pre-election survey for those interested in learning about public attitude.
  • Influence Public Opinion: Social media aids political parties in swaying the opinions of unsure voters and motivating the electorate's passive middle class.
  • It also aids in mobilising the base of supporters to cast many ballots and persuade others to do the same.
  • Information Sharing: Politicians are using the new social media more and more for campaigning, sharing or retrieving information, or participating in logical and critical debate.
  • Taking Care of Individuals Issues: Social media makes it simple for people to be informed about future occasions, party plans, and election agendas.
  • A tech-savvy candidate should be chosen to handle social media and use it to connect with people and learn about their issues.

Cons:

  • Polarization: Social media has developed into a tool used by politicians to make more noise and even as a means of fostering polarisation.
  • Growing Misrepresentation: The opposition parties are frequently blamed and criticised on social media, and the material is misrepresented by false and inaccurate facts.
  • Political minorities are becoming more prevalent, and they are using social media to block political progress.
  • Influence Voters' Opinion: Maintaining a social media presence and engaging in advertising costs money. Only wealthy parties can spend that much money and have an impact on the majority of voters.
  • The dissemination of false information on social media sites affects voter preferences during elections.

How are elections regulated in the media?

  • The media are not governed by the Election Commission. However, it is responsible for upholding any legal requirements or court orders that may be related to the media or how certain media outlets operate. The following laws are listed:
  • According to Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act of 1951, no election-related material may be shown on a cinematograph, television, or other similar device for 48 hours following the hour set for polling to close.
  • Section 126A of the Representation of the People Act of 1951 forbids the conduct of exit polls and the dissemination of their findings between the hours set for the start of the first phase of voting and the half-hour following the time set for the end of voting in the final phase in all States and Union Territories.
  • The Representation of the People Act, 1951, Section 127A: Its regulations control the printing and publication of election pamphlets, posters, etc., and require that they bear the names and addresses of the printer and publisher on their front faces.

Way Forward

  • Social media platforms, political parties, civil society and election authorities should put more effort into how social media platforms are used by politicians during elections and frame a comprehensive guideline that benefits the voter.
  • Social media, if used properly will certainly add to the vote bank but the other side of the picture will always stay. Hence, there is a need to take some measures for the effective use of social media in elections without any violation of individual rights.
  • It is high time that to ensure that the voting is not influenced but is done with People’s Own Choices and Preferences and ensure Free and Fair Election in the country.

Source: The Hindu


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