The Election Commission planned to implement a slew of measures to curb the circulation of fake news on social media in the run-up to elections, chief election commissioner (CEC) OP Rawat said in Bhopal on Tuesday. Rawat who came to Bhopal on Monday night to assess the preparations for the upcoming Madhya Pradesh assembly elections said the poll panel was keeping a close watch on circulation of fake news to ensure that it is not used to influence voters. Addressing the students of Bhopal’s Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism and Communication, Rawat said that in a way, fake news existed even during the Mahabharata era when Ashwathama, an elephant was killed and it was conveyed that Dronacharya’s son who also went by the same name had died. He, however, added “(the) magnitude of fake news these days has gone up to such an extent that it’s difficult to know what is correct and what is not”.
Rawat said the regional heads of social media companies had assured the commission that they would not allow circulation of any false content which could influence the voters and no content related to the election would be allowed to be circulated 48 hours before voting. “The measures taken by the companies (to control fake news) will be checked in the 2018 assembly elections and ahead of the Lok Sabha polls”, he added. He said a committee of cyber experts was formed to stop circulation of offensive and false information to ensure that the voters were not influenced by it. “The committee of cyber experts is preparing a report after holding a discussion with all political parties. The media certification monitoring committee will work and take action on paid news,” said Rawat. He said the EC would ban a politician from taking part in an election campaign if he was found involved in influencing voters with false information.