Social media monitoring : Election Commission refutes media reports | Sunday Observer

Social media monitoring : Election Commission refutes media reports

15 September, 2019

The Election Commission denied media reports that it has awarded the social media monitoring task during the Presidential elections to an IT group which is allegedly linked to the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) organisation led by Ven. Galagoda Atthe Gnanasara Thera.

National Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said they have had discussions with Facebook officials recently on how to tackle hate speech and fake news during the elections.

“We have sent out a public invitation to report such social media posts to the Commission for action, and this invitation is open to anyone,” Deshapriya said, adding this story which gives out a distorted picture was misleading.

Web news outlets, as well as mainstream media, had reported that the Elections Commission had awarded the Information Technology Society of Sri Lanka (ITSSL), the rights to monitor social media for fake election-related material or posts that tantamount to hate speech.

Some media outlets claimed that the ITSSL was linked to the BBS and questioned the credibility of the polls body.

Deshapriya said the NEC was devising a strategy to counter bad content on social media that can affect during the upcoming presidential election.

“We will follow Indian and Indonesian mechanisms. In those countries, Facebook is engaged in assisting the Elections Commissions to remove propaganda,” he said.

The NEC is also hoping to seek assistance from a recognised IT agency, such as SL CERT to help create a level playing field for all the candidates who enter the presidential race amidst allegations that thousands of fake social media profiles have been created targeting the election.

Meanwhile, the ITSSL denied that the NEC had awarded them the rights to monitor social media during the elections.

Rajiv Yasiru Kuruwitage of ITSSL said he was unaware as to how the story originated.