81% of the respondents want a ‘social media’ Code of Conduct for political campaigns on digital platforms during General Election 2018

ISLAMABAD: In a poll conducted by Media Matters for Democracy, 81% respondents have said that they would want the Election Commission of Pakistan to devise a Code of Conduct for political campaigns on social media platforms.

The poll question read: “Do you think the ECP should also devise guidelines for the use of social media platforms for campaigning, especially to keep in check the paid ‘online promotion’?”  Respondents were asked to choose between two options – “Yes” and “No”.

Meanwhile, 19% respondents responded as “No” to the aforementioned question.

A total of 67 people participated in the poll.

Reflecting on the outcome of the poll, the founder of MMFD Asad Baig said: “The poll responses perhaps are in the context of rising concerns of the people around online political campaigning which are often rife with incitement to violence, and contribute to the spread of misinformation. However, we need to keep in mind that regulating political speech online can have dangerous consequences. Its a slippery slope. The responses of the poll does not reflect MMFD’s stated position on this issue. We are not in favour of a new code of conduct specifically for social media platforms”.

When asked about the importance of countering election related online misinformation and incitement to political and religious violence in the context of General Elections 2018, he said: “Election Commission of Pakistan has issued a very comprehensive Code of Conduct for political parties and candidates on political campaigning. We strongly believe that instead of creating new rules, that Code should be implemented in both online and offline spaces, and ECP should take measures to counter the spread of election related online misinformation. We have written a letter to them asking the same”.

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