All the social media firms and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) held a meeting with the Election Commission on Tuesday, and have volunteered to implement “Code of Ethics” ahead of the general elections 2019.

In a bid to “prevent social media abuse during the Lok Sabha election campaigns”, the firms will come up with a draft ‘code of ethics’ for the industry in the next 24 hours. The meeting was attended by country heads from Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, Google, ShareChat, TikTok and BigoTV – and members of the IAMAI. All the attending companies will come up with a voluntary “code of ethics” model, parallel with the lines of Model Code of Conduct during election period, on Wednesday evening.

Election Commissioner Sunil Arora has informed that the “code of ethics” will mainly focus on blocking inappropriate and objectionable political advertisements before and during elections. Furthermore, it can also include special “terms of use” for all social media users, guiding them to not make misuse of the platforms for any political purposes or agendas. Hence, the ethics model will help in controlling online social media conduct from both advertiser and user ends, in political terms.

The election authorities have suggested the social media organisations to come up with a set of norms for themselves, so that it can best fit the platforms and also be aligned with the model of conduct. Hence, the new rules for social media will be introduced today evening, with the Section 126 of R.P. Act, 1951 as a base – which prohibits “any election matter by means, inter alia, of television or similar apparatus, during the period of 48 hours before the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in a constituency”. The key here is to see if the mode of ethics, model code of conduct and other efforts will actually work to control the virtual vices of 600 million Indians.