Maharashtra Cyber has its eye on social media

Mumbai: That election battles are now fought on social media is common knowledge. Every party has professionals handling their social media accounts, to draw more people into their fold.

The bigger parties have also set up their social media war rooms, taking the fight to the virtual turf. But now, Maharashtra Cyber, the I-T arm of the state, is keeping an eye on the online proceedings, at its special control room, which is working with Election Commission (EC) and all those who have been found flouting rules which will face the action.

During elections, social media is used for several purposes, the main one being to campaign but it is mostly used to launch an attack on opponents, malign their image and troll them.

This is the reason the Election Commission has also made it mandatory for candidates to provide details of their social media accounts.

The control room of Maharashtra Cyber is in Mantralaya – where parties’ accounts are tracked, as are the accounts of their candidates and their followers. The accounts in question include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, news blogs and portals.

During the run-up to the election, parties and candidates try to polarise voters by various means, create communal tension while some elements talk about boycotting elections and also question the authenticity of EVMs. The control room is where all these activities are monitored.

“In the control room, we are monitoring parties, their candidates and how people are reacting to them. If we find instances of violation of the model code of conduct, we notify the EC. As of now, inquiry is going on in 8-10 cases,” said Balsing Rajput, superintendent of police, Maharashtra Cyber.

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