With the Lok Sabha elections 2019 knocking at the door, social media is bubbling with information, misinformation and disinformation. To clamp down on fake news, Facebook plans to start an operations centre in Delhi on a 24×7 basis to monitor election content.
Shivnath Thukral, director, public policy, India and South Asia, Facebook said that this operations centre will work in tandem with the social media giant’s offices at Menlo Park (California), Dublin and Singapore.
Not only Facebook, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), Karnataka, has also decided to monitor all social media platforms before the election. A five-member team headed by BBMP chief electoral officer will keep an eye on the implementation of Election Commission of India guidelines on social media posts. The committee also includes an official from the ministry of information and broadcast and a retired Doordarshan journalist, reported The Times of India.
War on Fake news
The Election Commission has already rolled out guidelines regarding the use of social media by political parties and candidates. “Candidates are required to furnish details of his/her social media account at the time of filing of nomination. Since social media is also electronic media by definition, all political advertisement on social media will also require pre-certification from media certification and monitoring committees (MCMCs). Moreover, candidates and political parties shall include all expenditure on campaigning, including expenditure on advertisement on social media, in their election expenditure account,” the guidelines read.
India has already put pressure on Facebook for its inability to prevent misuse of its platform. India will be the second country after US to have an operations room specifically for elections.
While constantly engaging with Election Commission of India (ECI), Facebook aims to understand how it can ensure the coming polls are safe from abuse and misinformation, said Thukral told the Livemint. While the specifics are not yet decided, the operations room will be similar to that in the US. A cross-functional team will look at content, policy, legal, while also work closely with the Election Commission.
Their first big priority is to remove the fake accounts that spread fake news. Between September 2017 and October 2018, Facebook claims to have taken down over two billion fake profiles. Their next priority is to stop fake news from going viral. The company has partnered with seven companies—BOOMLive, AFP, India Today Group, Vishvas.news, Factly, Newsmobile and Fact Crescendo—across languages, including English, Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Malayalam and Marathi, for fact-checking.
While BBMP will focus on social media accounts that are more likely to spread fake news.
The Logical Indian take
While trolls and parody accounts have taken it upon themselves to share as much false information as possible, it is our responsibility to use information with caution. It is our responsibility to verify everything that we post on the internet. To ensure healthy civil discourse each one of us should treat what we read with a pinch of salt, a spoonful of doubt, and a flood of research.