After the global criticism of the two internet majors Facebook and Google for being used to allegedly manipulate the Presidential Elections in the United States of America, the social media giants have taken a slew of measures ahead of the general elections in India, announced the Election Commission.
The Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said, “Google and Facebook have announced verification of the political advertisers and ad archives with reference to ad buying on social media.”
To keep a check on election violation, the menace of fake news and hate speech during the election period social media platforms have told the Election Commission that they have appointed dedicated officers to take necessary and prompt action against malicious content published on their platforms.
They have also committed to taking action on any complaint reported by the designated officers of the Election Commission of India (ECI).
Arora also mentioned that “the Internet and Mobile Association of India in consultation with ECI is formulating a set of code of ethics, this is a work in progress.”
In its Ad Library, Facebook has a total of 16,556 ads reported till March 4 this year that is “related to politics and issues of national importance” in India. The total amount spent on these ads is Rs 4,13,88,087.
As reported earlier by News 18 , the Ad Library Report shows that the BJP has been the heaviest advertiser on the platform since February 2 and that most of the ads were funded by ghost advertisers which ran advertisements without any proper disclaimer.
According to Facebook, ads that run without a disclaimer are to be categorised as: “When an advertiser categorises their ad as being related to politics or an issue of national importance, they are required to disclose who paid for the ad [emphasis added]. If an ad runs without a disclaimer, this field will say, ‘These ads ran without a disclaimer,’ meaning that after the ad started running, Facebook determined it was related to politics and issues of national importance and hence, required the label. The ad is then taken down.”
According to the News18.com study of the data provided by the Facebook, pro-BJP page, “Bharat Ke Mann Ki Baat”, alone spent over Rs 1 crore for political ads on the social networking platform last month. The amount of money spent on these advertisements was not necessarily paid by the party but by its supporters.
After analyzing the data, News 18 found out that the money spent by the ghost advertisers were increasing as the Lok Sabha elections are coming nearer.