Ahead of assembly elections, Twitter on Monday announced a slew of initiatives in a bid to protect public conversation and tackle poll-related misinformation.

Announcing the multilingual initiatives, the microblogging platform pledged its commitment to "facilitating meaningful political debate, driving civic participation during elections", in real-time.

"With the #AssemblyElections2021 taking place in Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Puducherry, Twitter announced a series of initiatives focussed on encouraging informed and healthy conversations between candidates, political parties, citizens, media, and society," it said in a statement.

The measures include an information search prompt with the Election Commission of India (@ECISVEEP) and State Election Commissions to provide reliable information around the elections, a custom emoji to encourage participation, a series of pre-bunks and debunks to tackle election-related misinformation, and a youth discussion series titled #DemocracyAdda aimed at voter literacy and civic participation among young Indians for the upcoming elections.

These will be activated across six languages including English, Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Assamese and Malayalam, in order to cater to audiences across India.

Additionally, to put a focus on women in Indian politics, the service would be bringing back #HerPoliticalJourney, a video series where women political leaders share their personal stories with leading women news journalists.

It is pertinent to mention here that voting for five assembly elections will begin on March 27, with West Bengal hosting eight phases over a month. Counting of votes in the four states and one union territory will take place on May 2.

Payal Kamat, Manager Public Policy and Government, Twitter India, said that public conversation is critical during elections, and "Twitter is where this unfolds".

"With digital penetration accelerating in India, more people now have access to credible, authoritative and timely information - crucial tools for exercising their civic rights. By leveraging the power of the open Internet, we are encouraging people across India to be a part of the #AssemblyElections2021 conversation," Kamat said.

Kamat thanked the Election Commission of India, the State Election Commissions for their support, and hoped that the platform's efforts would "contribute to healthy and vibrant civic dialogue".

Elaborating on the initiatives, Twitter said the information search prompt would make it easy to find credible and authoritative information about candidate lists, voting dates, polling booths, and EVM voter registration, among other election-related topics.

The custom emoji is aimed at stimulating participation in election-related discussions. Featuring an inked finger to represent a citizen who has exercised their right to vote, the emoji is available till May 10, 2021.

"Twitter is staying ahead of potentially misleading information about how and where to vote by publishing a series of pre-bunk prompts across languages including English, Hindi, Tamil and Bengali based on content by the national and State Election Commissions and civil society partners such as Youth Ki Awaz, Association of Democratic Reforms," the statement said.

The prompts will appear on people's home timelines and in search, including information about how to register to vote, and details on EVMs and VVPATs.

The prompts would also serve the public with relevant voting information about booths, postal ballots, Covid-19 restrictions and accessibility, among other topics.

"Additionally, the service will focus on de-bunking critical issues as they arise with a curated Twitter Moment. These Moments are created based on high standards of accuracy, impartiality and fairness and are designed to feature compelling, original, and diverse content," Twitter informed.

Twitter has an estimated 1.75 crore users in India as per data cited by the government, recently.

Twitter had recently drawn flak over inflammatory tweets and hashtags around farmers' protests, with the microblogging service initially refusing to comply with orders to take down about 1,500 such posts and accounts.

Twitter complied after the government showed the rule book that contained penal provisions.

Amid growing concerns over rampant abuse of social media platforms and spread of fake news, the government, last month, announced new regulations for digital platforms, requiring them to take down contentious content quicker, appoint grievance redressal officers and assist investigations.

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