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Vishal Joshi , Hindustan Times Panipat
October 04, 2014

An electronic application will scan the social media spaces of all 56 candidates in the fray in four assembly segments of this district.

The district administration has taken this novel initiative, first-of-its-kind in the country, to curb the misuse of the social media websites for posting defamatory and inflammatory comments.

The brain behind the virtual filters project, Ajit Balaji Joshi, deputy commissioner and district election officer (DEO), said on Friday that besides action for violating the model code of conduct, the violation would also invite criminal proceedings under the Information Technology (IT) Act.

When filing nomination, all candidates submit declaration and affidavit that their social media websites, whether selfoperated or serviced by any out used. The rule covers Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Hike, Viber, and bulk SMS.

Known for innovative ideas in administrative work, Joshi said the mechanism had started working from Thursday after the deadline for the withdrawal of nomination. The virtual filters will issue alerts in case of violation, enabling the authorities concerned to take prompt necessary action.

The DEO clarified that the cyber policing tool was adopted to implement the model code of conduct in the digital space For the task Pune-based software company, Persistent Systems, which will track the FB pages and accounts, besides the Twitter handles of all candidates.

The related social networking channels, including followers’ groups promoted by FB and Twitter, are also tracked.
Persistent System also did social media analysis for Aamir Khan television series Satyamev Jayate. Joshi said the watch system would generate printouts on each candidate as evidence.

"Earlier, the web pages were scanned manually based on specific complaint, and without technical support, the job was tedious," he said.

The administration will include the money spent on social media campaigns in poll expenditure. "The candidates are paying considerable attention to social media sites to promote political ideology and candidates. Each candidate is not allowed to spend more thanRs 28 lakh," said the DEO.