Monitoring Digital Election Campaigns – Editorial

The campaigning for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections has been perhaps the most “digital” so far with parties across the spectrum now using, and often abusing, the digital tools available to them such as social media, mobile apps, online discussion forums, and mass messaging. Last week, social media platforms came together with the Internet and Mobile Association of India to release a “Voluntary Code of Ethics” in consultation with the Election Commission of India (ECI).…

The digital sphere is not separate from physical, social and political spheres, and to view it as operating in isolation is rather unwise. We are in a grey zone now because we have ignored the need to interrogate how digital platforms and technologies affect democratic systems, and in turn the integrity of electoral processes. Setting up a “voluntary” code of ethics one month before the world’s largest elections are to begin is nothing more than a futile public relations exercise by the social media platforms.

Ideally, the ECI should have been creating an adequate and nuanced knowledge base on social media in the last few years, which would have enabled it to navigate the fast-evolving digital landscape. If it wants to catch up with what social media and elections might look like in 2024, the time for the ECI to take action is now.

https://www.epw.in/journal/2019/13/editorials/monitoring-digital-election-campaigns.html

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