The Election Commission on Sunday said all candidates will have to submit details of their social media accounts and that all political advertisements on social media will require prior certification. Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora specified the guidelines for the use of social media during the elections as he announced the dates for the Lok Sabha polls.

Voting to elect the 17th Lok Sabha will take place in seven phases between April 11 and May 19, the Election Commission announced on Sunday. The votes will be counted on May 23. The Model Code of Conduct came into effect immediately after the announcement.

The poll panel said that all expenditure on political advertisements on social media will have to be included in the expenditure accounts of the candidates and the parties. All provisions of the Model Code of Conduct, which came into effect immediately after the announcement, will be applicable to content on social media, he said.

Media certification and monitoring committees have been constituted in all states and districts to counter paid news and media-related violations. A social domain media expert has also been included on the committees.

The poll panel said bulk SMSs or voice messages used as part of the election campaign will also be under the purview of pre-certification.

The chief election commissioner said Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube have committed to ensuring that all political advertisements on their platforms will be pre-certified by the media certification and monitoring committees. Arora said social media platforms have appointed grievance officers to take prompt action against objectionable content posted on their sites to counter fake news and hate speeches.

The intermediary platforms have also agreed to establish priority channels to ensure a quick response to the Election Commission of India.

He said that the Internet and Mobile Association of India in collaboration with the poll panel is setting up a code of ethics for intermediary online platforms. An Android application will be available for voters to file complaints of malpractices and the breach of the model code of conduct.