Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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    Election Commission to Establish 100 Control Rooms to Combat Fake News During Elections

    During the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, tackling false and misleading content will pose one of the biggest challenges for the Election Commission. While the commission is gearing up for all preparations, there is one additional major challenge ahead.

    The Election Commission has decided to establish hundreds of control rooms for the first time to identify and take action against fake content on social media. Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar informed journalists on Thursday that teams from the commission will continuously monitor social media and analyze attempts to influence the environment.

    Will the Commission take action?

    Kumar stated that these teams will take whatever action necessary whenever they come across factually incorrect content. Actions may include issuing notices or lodging complaints with the police against those spreading communalism or creating false content.

    Kumar also mentioned that web addresses could be blocked, and social media companies could be requested to remove false content. However, he added, “But we will proceed with caution because there’s a thin line between freedom of expression, criticism, and spreading misinformation.”

    Concerns have been raised multiple times regarding the spread of fake news in India, especially during elections. In January 2024, the World Economic Forum stated in its ‘Global Risk Report’ that misinformation would emerge as a threat globally in the next two years.

    The report particularly highlighted India, stating that the country faces the highest risk of misinformation. Instances of misinformation during the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 were widely reported. It remains to be seen whether the Election Commission can effectively address this threat this time.

    Will voter turnout increase?

    Over 960 million voters are expected to participate in the elections this time. More than 1 million polling stations have been set up across the country for voting. Approximately 2,400 political parties have registered to contest in the elections.

    While typically 400 to 450 people work in the Election Commission’s office in New Delhi, the number of employees is expected to increase to nearly 150 million for conducting these elections.

    Whether it’s transporting voting machines to the world’s highest polling station at 15,000 feet or visiting the homes of voters above the age of 80 to collect their votes, these employees will undertake all tasks. The Commission hopes that this time, more than 67% of voters will cast their votes, surpassing the turnout in 2019.

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