As India gears up for Assembly elections in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry, social media giant Twitter has updated its policy “to encourage a healthy, informed, and vibrant civic dialogue” during the polls.
In a blog dated 24 March, the tech platform said that a global cross functional team has been tasked with the responsibility to run the election integrity work. Their main target is to keep the service safe from attempts to manipulate the platform and content that can incite violence, abuse, and threats and trigger the risk of offline harm.
‘Multilayered Approach to Fight Misinformation’
The blog further mention that Twitter will tackle misinformation at three different levels – policy, enforcement and product.
The platform will remove content that manipulates or interferes with elections or contains misleading information about:
- Procedures to participate in the election process.
- False information intended to intimidate or dissuade people from participating in the elections and voting, such as misleading claims that polling places are closed; that polling has ended, or other misleading information relating to votes not being counted.
- Accounts that misrepresent their affiliation with a political candidate or party.
Twitter will also label content as ‘Synthetic and Manipulated Media’ once it has “reason to believe that media, or the context in which media are presented, are significantly and deceptively altered or manipulated”.
Policy on Political Ads
While Twitter had banned political ads in 2019, the platform has stated that it is not bringing them back and is taking proactive measures to prevent prohibited political advertising through comprehensive and nuanced enforcement mechanisms. These include identifying and blocking ads from referenced candidates, parties, and other election-related content.
In a blog published on 18 March, Twitter had announced several other initiatives to provide reliable information during the upcoming elections.
These include an information search prompt with the Election Commission of India and State Election Commissions; a custom emoji to encourage participation; a series of pre-bunks and de-bunks to tackle election-related misinformation; and a youth discussion series titled #DemocracyAdda aimed at voter literacy and civic participation among young Indians for the #AssemblyElections2021.
These will be activated across six languages, including English, Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Assamese and Malayalam.
These measures come as major social media giants, including Facebook and Twitter, continue facing the heat across the world, over handling of disinformation which can potentially harm the integrity and results of elections.