While political parties are ready with their social media plans to reach out to voters, the Election Commission is of the view that political messages during poll campaigns shouldn’t disturb people’s privacy.
Considering the rising use of social media platforms during electioneering, the poll panel has directed political parties and candidates not to make calls or send SMSes and WhatsApp messages between 10 pm and 6 am till the model code of conduct in is force.
“It is necessary to respect the privacy of citizens and reduce disturbance of public life in general,” the EC said. Door-to-door campaign and the use of loudspeakers will also remain prohibited between 10 pm and 6 am.
Issuing guidelines for media coverage of elections, the EC said news broadcasters must not broadcast any form of “hate speech” or other obnoxious content that may lead to incitement of violence or promote public unrest or disorder. “News broadcasters should strictly avoid reports which tend to promote feelings of enmity or hatred among people, on the grounds of religion, race, caste, community, region or language,” the poll panel said.
It further said that TV and radio channels and cable networks should ensure that the contents of the programme telecast or displayed during the period of 48 hours referred to in Section 126 did not contain any material, including views or appeals by panelists and participants, that may be construed as promoting the prospect of any particular party or candidate(s) or influencing/affecting the result of the election.
“This shall, among other things include display of result of any opinion poll and of standard debates, analysis, visuals and sound-bytes,” it added.