CHENNAI: The streets may have become silent at 7pm on Sunday with the end of physical campaigning for the assembly elections, but canvassing of votes continued on social media.
This was primarily due to lack of proper monitoring as well as clarity on what could be considered electioneering and the mechanism to keep it under check.
An FIR has been registered against BJP candidate for Karaikudi assembly segment, H Raja, by the Sivaganga district police, for uploading a video on his FB page highlighting the achievements of the Union and state governments and their election promises.
Though district collector P Madhusudhan Reddy told TOI that a case has been registered after the violation came to his notice, the video uploaded at 7.39pm on Sunday, and watched by thousands, was not removed even beyond 9pm on Monday.
In most instances, it is mostly cadres and sympathisers of a particular candidate or party who share campaign material on social media.
Content ranging from campaigning for a candidate or party to troll videos of rivals are shared as WhatsApp status updates, profile pictures and shared with individuals and groups.
There are also instances of sharing videos posted earlier. A few hours before the campaign came to an end, DMK president M K Stalin answered important questions raised by journalists.
These along with Stalin’s answer were made into a one-minute video and uploaded on social media platforms with the hashtag #1minute_with_MKS. The videos were in wide circulation hours later. Hashtags #NDAWinning-TamilNadu and #Vellvanvivasayi were trending on Twitter on Monday.
In a statement on the penultimate day of campaigning, chief electoral officer Satyabrata Sahoo made it clear that no one shall display to the public any election matter by any means that include WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
District election officers (DEO) say social media monitoring comes under the purview of the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC). Chaired by the DEO, the MCMC has a handful of officials entrusted with monitoring ads in mainstream print and electronic media. The only action they can initiate on social media campaigns violating the deadline is issue a notice to the user.
(With inputs from Nivedha Selvam)