X withholds political posts in India after Election Commission orders regulatory compliance

These posts will remain inaccessible for the duration of the ongoing election period, as mandated by the Election Commission.

Satyam Singh
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Courtesy: X/Canva

Social media giant X has recently found itself in a quandary following directives from the Election Commission of India. In response, the platform has chosen to withhold certain posts containing political content from elected officials, political parties, and electoral candidates. These posts will remain inaccessible for the duration of the ongoing election period, as mandated by the Election Commission.

Disagreement over freedom of expression

Despite complying with the orders, X, which is owned by Elon Musk, expressed its disagreement with the decision. The platform asserted that "freedom of expression should extend to these posts and political speech in general." In an effort to maintain transparency, X has notified the affected users and publicly disclosed the takedown orders on its platform.

Call for transparency from Election Commission

In addition to its compliance, X has urged the Election Commission to enhance transparency by publishing all future takedown orders. This appeal aligns with the platform's commitment to openness and accountability in its operations.

Details of the takedown orders

The takedown orders published by X shed light on the specific posts flagged by the Election Commission. Among them are social media updates from prominent political entities such as the YSR Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, and Bihar deputy chief minister Samrat Chaudhary. The Election Commission cited violations of the model code of conduct (MCC), which became effective with the announcement of the electoral schedule.

Compliance with voluntary code of ethics

The Election Commission's directives fall within the framework of the "Voluntary Code of Ethics," to which X is a signatory. As per this code, participating platforms are obligated to promptly address valid legal requests from the Election Commission and implement measures to prevent platform misuse. Failure to comply would constitute a breach of the voluntary code.

Context of India's Electoral landscape

India, home to nearly a billion eligible voters, embarks on its monumental electoral journey, marking the world's largest democratic exercise. With polling spanning 44 days and results slated for June 4, the nation braces for a historic electoral showdown. Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks an unprecedented third consecutive term, facing opposition from a diverse coalition of political forces.

As X navigates the delicate balance between upholding free speech and adhering to regulatory mandates, its response to Election Commission orders underscores the complexities inherent in managing digital discourse during critical electoral processes.

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