The Election Commission (EC) will keep a hawk's eye on different social media platforms during next year's parliamentary polls to identify persons and political workers who circulate fake news and hate-inciting posts.
With political parties and their frontline leaders banking on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp to capture the imaginations of voters in the run-up to the polls, the EC is taking up a fresh safety measure to prevent the parties, their cadres and candidates from crossing the line during their campaigning. 

State chief electoral officer L Khiangte said on Tuesday that the EC is setting up social media monitoring cells in all 24 districts of Jharkhand ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabhapolls.

"The cell will monitor fake news and posts which incite hate and communal discord. The sources of these posts will be tracked down and necessary actions initiated. Rebuttals to these posts will also be sent out by the respective cells," Khiangte said at the inaugural day of a two-day deliberation session on electoral and political reforms, organized by the Jharkhand Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) at the Ranchi Press Club.

Social media platforms have long been under the radar of the state home department which has often struggled to allay communal discord, law and order flare-ups and cases of mob violence in Ranchi and different parts of the state in the recent years.

Khiangte said the EC will kick start a campaign on social media platforms from January urging users to refrain from posting fake news items. Social media accounts have become a must haves for politicians cutting across party lines to promote their party as well individual ideologies and opinions. Chief minister Raghubar Das, leader of opposition Hemant Soren, JVM-P chief Babulal Marandi and Congress state president Ajoy Kumar are avid users of Facebook and Twitter. Other political parties have followed suit and set up dedicated accounts for propaganda and public relations, managed by specialist managers and IT experts. Often, the parties exchange barbs over an issue on the social media. BJP has constituted social media cells at booth levels and its workers regularly send out personalized messages to voters through WhatsApp.

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