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Campaign on social media under watch

After intensifying vigil on distribution of liquor, money and other inducements to lure voters, State election officials have focussed their attention on propaganda through social media. The election authorities have decided to monitor the campaign on the social media in favour of contesting candidates and political parties as a majority of the candidates are relying on social media for their campaign purposes. “This is a new area involving cutting edge technology. We are in touch with the IT department officials, seeking their assistance in checking the campaign through social media,” a senior official said. The election authority is actively working out proposals for engaging a third party tool to track campaign on the social media. The development comes in the light of reports that several contesting candidates, including those from the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi, have appointed exclusive teams to operate their social media accounts. Mandatory The election authorities have made it mandatory for the contesting candidates to specify their social media accounts in the affidavits that would be filed along with the nomination forms. The political parties on their part will have to submit declaration relating to the advertisement expenditure they are incurring for campaign through social media. Senior officials said the election authority, in association with the IT department officials, was exploring technological options that can help them track the campaign through the social media. Efforts are under way to work out a matrix on controlling the social media content violative of the provisions of the model code of conduct like appeals on the basis of community, caste or religion or offer of money. Chief Electoral Officer Rajat Kumar said the guidelines for social media were exactly same as those of print and electronic media. “We are already keeping a watch and scanning various sites for web trolling. The focus, particularly, is on messages that are provocative in terms of community, caste and religion,” he said.