Election Commission seeks help of state’s IT professionals to check misuse of social media

The Election Commission (ECI) on Tuesday called upon the Information Technology professionals from Karnataka to help it make it sure that the social media was not misused to run malicious or divisive campaign during the electioneering for the state Assembly polls.

The Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat said that the IT professionals of Karnataka could render a “great service to strengthen democracy” in the country if they could do “whatever is within their reach” to help the commission to ensure that no one could misuse social media to influence the poll outcomes, either by running divisive and malicious campaign or by harvesting data unduly. The ECI noted the reports about data harvested from social media had been unduly used to sway public opinion “in some developed countries”. Rawat said that the ECI itself had formulated social media policy and had set up a social media hub at the commission to keep tab on social media during elections.

He stressed on cooperation from the IT professionals of Karnataka, noting that the state was known as the “IT capital of India.” Notwithstanding the controversy regarding harvesting of data from Facebook by Cambridge Analytica, the ECI is likely to continue using the social media during and beyond the polls in Karnataka, the CEC said. “Any aberration wont stop the use of modern technology… bank-frauds have taken place, but we dont stop banking,” Rawat said while announcing the schedule of polls in Karnataka in a press conference at the Nirvachan Sadan.

The EC has been using Facebook and other social media platforms to engage with youths to encourage them to enrol as voters and cast their votes to participate in democratic exercise. The EC partnered with the Facebook to reach out to them. The EC took note of the controversy over alleged role of British political consultancy company Cambridge Analytica harvesting data from Facebook to sway public opinion in favour of Donald Trump during the US Presidential election in 2016 as well as to influence the referendum the same year when the British voted to leave the European Union.

The Election Commission (ECI) on Tuesday called upon the Information Technology professionals from Karnataka to help it make it sure that the social media was not misused to run malicious or divisive campaign during the electioneering for the state Assembly polls.

The Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat said that the IT professionals of Karnataka could render a “great service to strengthen democracy” in the country if they could do “whatever is within their reach” to help the commission to ensure that no one could misuse social media to influence the poll outcomes, either by running divisive and malicious campaign or by harvesting data unduly. The ECI noted the reports about data harvested from social media had been unduly used to sway public opinion “in some developed countries”. Rawat said that the ECI itself had formulated social media policy and had set up a social media hub at the commission to keep tab on social media during elections.

He stressed on cooperation from the IT professionals of Karnataka, noting that the state was known as the “IT capital of India.” Notwithstanding the controversy regarding harvesting of data from Facebook by Cambridge Analytica, the ECI is likely to continue using the social media during and beyond the polls in Karnataka, the CEC said. “Any aberration won’t stop the use of modern technology… bank-frauds have taken place, but we don’t stop banking,” Rawat said while announcing the schedule of polls in Karnataka in a press conference at the Nirvachan Sadan.

The EC has been using Facebook and other social media platforms to engage with youths to encourage them to enrol as voters and cast their votes to participate in democratic exercise. The EC partnered with the Facebook to reach out to them. The EC took note of the controversy over alleged role of British political consultancy company Cambridge Analytica harvesting data from Facebook to sway public opinion in favour of Donald Trump during the US Presidential election in 2016 as well as to influence the referendum the same year when the British voted to leave the European Union.

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