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Officials to keep strict vigil on social media: Delhi CEO

Officials to keep strict vigil on social media: Delhi CEO
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NEW DELHI: Amidst growing concern related to fake news, especially ahead the Lok Sabha polls, the electoral authorities have decided to keep a strict vigil on social media platforms. The Delhi's Chief Electoral Officer Ranbir Singh on Monday told mediapersons that all the political parties or candidates will have to get their advertisements verified from the Election Commission. Singh said, "Political parties or candidates can only issue advertisements after getting it verified from the Electoral Office." Singh said that "appropriate action" will be taken against the violators.

A day after the Lok Sabha poll schedule was announced by the Election Commission, Singh also appealed to the people to use the Commission's 'cVigil' app to report any violations of moral code of conduct like use of money, gifts or liquor to influence voters, muscle power to intimidate voters or use of hate speech.

The general elections will begin on April 11 and will be held over seven phases, followed by counting of votes on May 23. The elections in Delhi are due on May 12. The EC in January had directed Delhi CEO to ask the city police to investigate the "fake news" of Lok Sabha poll schedule, which was being circulated on social media then.

The CEO had also been asked to seek action against unnamed persons and entities under relevant laws to prevent rumour-mongering. Singh on Monday said for the "first time", a social media expert has been included in the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC) of the poll body, which will monitor both at state-level and district-level. "Authorities will be monitoring all forms of the media, including TV radio, social media, like Facebook and Twitter, to check spread of any fake news and hate speech. For any individual violator, it will be reported at the district-level and for political parties, any violation would be reported at the state-level," he said.

Asked what would be the nature of action against such violations, he said, "appropriate action" would be taken, a per the laws. Singh also appealed to people use the Internet-based application 'cVIGIL', which stands for "citizens' vigil" to report cases of poll code violations. Using this Android-based app, a person can send geo-tagged videos and photos, if any illegal money is being distributed or a hate speech being made during polls. "If any violations of the moral code of conduct is seen by people, like use of money, gifts or liquor to influence voters, muscle power to intimidate voters or use of hate speech, then a user can take a picture or a video and report it through this app," he said.

The Delhi CEO said, once the details has been uploaded, the complaint will be sent to a "flying squad" which will then escalate the complaint. "The only condition is a citizen would have to upload the complaint within five minutes for successful submission. And, within 100 minutes from that time, a Returning Officer (RO) has to dispose the case," he said, adding, a user can chose to keep his or her identity anonymous.

Meanwhile, Delhi's Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Ranbir Singh on Monday said around two lakh people have been added to the electoral roll in Delhi in the last two months, taking the total number of eligible voters to 1.39 crore at present. Singh, however said nearly 90,000 voter applications are presently being processed and asked the first-time voters to apply as soon as possible to get their names enrolled in the electoral list.

"On January 18, the total number of voters in the electoral roll of Delhi stood at 1,36,95,291. So, there is an increase of nearly two lakh voters since then," he said.

The total number of male and female voters are 76,61,680 and 62,35,814 respectively while the number of third gender voters are 647, he said. Polling stations will be established at 2,696 locations, he said, adding 13,816 polling stations would be set up, with a model polling station in each Assembly constituency. There would 425 critical polling stations, as per current assessment, officials said. Delhi has seven Lok Sabha seats and 70 Assembly constituencies.

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