‘Campaign expenditure must cover payments to social media websites’


The Election officials have directed candidates and political parties to include the payments made to social media websites for advertisements while submitting the statement of expenditure.

In view of the ensuing byelections in 15 Assembly segments, including Hunsur, Deputy Commissioner of Mysuru Abhiram G. Sankar, who is also the District Election Officer, shared the Election Commission of India’s (EC) instructions with regard to use of social media in election campaigning while claiming that Internet giants like Google, Facebook, and Twitter were facilitating transparency by displaying “Ad Transparency Reports” on their respective platforms.

The Ad Transparency Reports displayed by the Internet companies on their respective platforms show payments made by different political parties for their political campaigns.

According to the instructions, all political parties and contesting candidates proposing to issue advertisements on television channels and cable networks will have to apply to EC-designated officials for pre-certification of political advertisements.

Since, social media websites are also electronic media by definition, these instructions shall also apply mutatis mutandis to any Internet-based media websites, including social media websites.

“You are therefore requested to ensure that no political advertisements are released to Internet-based media websites, including social media websites, by political parties/candidates without pre-certification from competent authorities in the same format and following the same procedures as referred in the aforesaid orders,” the EC said.

Further, the EC has directed all candidates and political parties to include expenditure on campaigning, including expenditure on advertisements on social media, both for maintaining a correct account of expenditure and for submitting the statement of expenditure.

“This among other things shall include payments made to Internet companies and websites for carrying advertisements and also campaign related operational expenditure on making of creative development of content, operational expenditure on salaries and wages paid to team of workers employed by such candidates and political parties to maintain their social media accounts”.

The EC has also sought information from candidates about their social media accounts. The candidate should furnish her or his authentic social media accounts in para 3 of Form 26 in the affidavits submitted at the time of filing nominations. The social media accounts of the candidate should be furnished along with the candidate’s telephone number and e-mail address in para 3 of Form 26.

The political parties should submit a statement of expenditure of elections to the EC and such statements are required to be submitted within 75 days of Assembly elections and 90 days of Lok Sabha elections. “It is obvious that expenditure on election campaign through any advertisement in social media is part of all expenditure in connection with the elections,” the EC has said.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 12:40:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/campaign-expenditure-must-cover-payments-to-social-media-websites/article30126166.ece

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