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Mechanisms in place to track social media, difficult to look at everything: Delhi poll body chief

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New Delhi, May 10 (PTI) The Delhi poll body has various mechanisms in place to monitor paid news and social media, Chief Electoral Officer P Krishnamurthy said, even as he admitted that it is not plausible to keep a check on online platforms due to the large volumes of content.

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In an interview with PTI, Krishnamurthy also dismissed allegations about the poll panel being biased and asserted that it provides a "level playing field".

Announcing the schedule of the general elections for the 18th Lok Sabha, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar noted the complexity of tackling misinformation in the digital age and said the Election Commission had put in place certain measures to nip misinformation in the bud.

Kumar had also said the commission would launch a "Myth vs Reality" project to clear the air around fake news on social media.

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Speaking on social media monitoring, Krishnamurthy told PTI that the Delhi poll body has media teams at different levels to look into various aspects of social media, including paid news.

"We have committees that certify the advertisements that go into electronic media, including social media. We have a committee at the level of the chief electoral officer and then there are teams at the returning officer level. They do pre-certification of the advertisements that go online," he said.

He explained there are teams regularly checking TV channels, websites and newspapers for any violation of the rules.

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Discussing the challenges of monitoring social media, Krishnamurthy said it is considered a very vast network.

"What we do is that we have certain protocols to monitor what is happening on social media. But concerning the volumes generated, it may not be plausible to look at everything happening there. But anything of serious concern is looked into and we do take action if there is any violation," he asserted.

Earlier this week, the Election Commission reminded the Delhi chief electoral officer to take action against anonymous political hoardings.

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In a letter to the office of the chief electoral officer, the poll authority said it had been receiving representations from various stakeholders, including political parties, regarding anonymous election hoardings at authorised and unauthorised locations in the national capital.

Throwing light on such posts, Krishnamurthy said, "So far as anonymous things are concerned, there are agencies looking into them. Concerning attacks on individuals, the affected parties make complaints and those are being acted upon. Recently, the Election Commission had also asked social media platforms to take off some posts. Action is happening wherever there are violations." AAP recently accused the poll body of being biased after it was asked to modify its campaign song "Jail Ka Jawab Vote Se Denge".

Dismissing such a charge, Krishnamurthy said, "Anyone can say anything. This is a free country and freedom of speech is guaranteed. We go by the book. We ensure that there is a level playing field. There is no question of preference for someone at the cost of someone. We are absolutely neutral." Polling for Delhi's seven seats will be held in the sixth phase of the seven-phase elections on May 25.

The votes will be counted on June 4. PTI SJJ/SLB SLB SZM

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