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The election campaigning in India has a new favourite, ‘Social Media’. As political parties continue to look towards new media to offer them small vote bank shifts, it is surprising to see how even the Election Commission in India has woken up to recognise the new medium. In the month of October ’13, ahead of the elections, the Election Commission of India released a guidelines document outlining the code of conduct for political parties using Social Media for campaigning purposes.
In the guidelines document, the Election Commission defines what it calls social media as :
a) collaborative projects (for example, Wikipedia)
b) blogs and micro blogs (for example, Twitter)
c) content communities (for example, YouTube)
d) social networking sites (for example, Facebook)
e) virtual game-worlds (e.g., Apps)
Summarising some of the key take aways from the guidelines.
1) Candidates are expected to disclose information about their social media presence during the time of filing their nominations.
2) Pre-certification of all the advertisements planned by the political parties, by the Election Commission. As part of the pre-certification, it isn’t very clear if the Election Commission is only interested in the content of the Ad or is it even putting the targeting into scrutiny.
3) Keeping account of Ad expenditure on the various mediums from the date of filing nominations until the day of declaration of results. The Election Commission also wants the candidates to provide information on the money spent in wages for the development of creative content, wages paid to teams managing the social media accounts on behalf of the candidate, etc. Although this information sounds interesting, I wonder if the Election Commission would be able to derive any value of this information.
Though the focus of the guidelines has been on the use of Internet, it makes me wonder if the Election Commission is also actively monitoring other mediums/technologies being used by political parties and their candidates for campaigning purposes such as SMS blast and IVR. With the complexity of monitoring online activity just growing, I’m very curious to see how the various governmental institutions will raise up to this challenge.
With all that said, I’m just beginning to enjoy all the funny ads that are beginning to show up on my news feed and on affiliate websites. Here are a few that I managed to take a screen shot of.

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