Written by Staff Writer
08 Mar, 2020 | 10:32 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st):- The usage of social media platforms has been of concern during the run-up to an election. With this year’s general elections not too far away, what are the steps that would be taken to combat this issue?
Local and international election monitoring groups raised concerns over the misuse of social media platforms during the run-up to last year’s presidential election. This was after such platforms were used to propagate hate speech, misinformation, and to also promote political candidates during the 48-hour silent period which was declared before the poll.
The commonwealth election monitoring group in its preliminary statement on the presidential election last year commented on the matter.
On the 19th of November 2019, Chairperson of the Commonwealth Election Monitoring Group, Prosper Bani said;
“Another issue of concern was the use and promotion of hate speech through private media, as well as on social media platforms, to conduct campaigns, including well after the 48 hours deadline.”
Last year, the National Election Commission had held discussions with social media platforms Facebook and Twitter seeking to prevent the misuse of these platforms. Assistant Election Commissioner Suranga Ranasinghe told News 1st, that the National Election Commission, this time, is holding discussions with officials from YouTube as well. He noted that YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook will provide a dedicated service to monitor these platforms during this year’s general election.
The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence which is a local election monitoring group had this to say.
The National Coordinator at the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence, Manjula Gajanayake said;
“Rs. 12 million were spent by all candidates who contested at last year’s elections. In Sri Lanka there is no campaign regulation law. Due to that, we can’t track some expenses like how much was spent on Facebook administered as well as non-political advertisements. In Sri Lanka, the last election also we witnessed that there were hundreds of marked ballot papers disseminated using social media platforms. Some politicians are connected with some international companies and they can create artificial likes, artificial reactions and they can give a wrong message to their voters.”
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