KATHMANDU: The silent period for the May 13 local elections begins at midnight today.
The Electoral Commission set a 48-hour silence period before voting to facilitate the conduct of the election in a free, fair and fearless environment.
Any type of activity related to the election is prohibited during this period. The EC also prohibited political parties from organizing electoral assemblies, meetings and door-to-door campaigns.
It is stipulated in the Electoral Code of Conduct published by the EC that no information or material related to any party or candidate may be broadcast or disseminated in the media, including radio, television, newspapers and the media online during the quiet period.
Although the blackout period is in effect in the media, it seems that regulating social sites is going to be difficult for the EC.
It is seen that even though radio, television, newspapers and online media are regulated in other countries also during the election silence period, they are unable to regulate social media.
Stopping the campaign via social sites like Facebook, Twitter and TikTok during the silence period is difficult, it is said.
The EC urged candidates and their supporters not to carry out activities such as campaigning on social media during the silence period.
EC Spokesperson Shaligram Sharma Poudel said that although a mechanism has been put in place to monitor social media, it will be quite difficult to stop election campaigning through such media during the period. of silence.
The EC is trying to monitor the social sites during the silence period by setting up a special committee consisting of two IT experts from the Cyber Bureau, Nepal Police and one from the Nepal Army.
Although the EC has the support of the special committee to observe the content of social networking sites during the time of silence, it is still difficult to ensure the implementation of the code of conduct in cyberspace, according to Poudel.
The EC has urged users of social sites to remove if election-related material has already been posted and not to re-post.
“But the reality is that its use is across borders, we will try to play our part to the best of our abilities, but the results will show how successful we will be,” he said.
The EC urged everyone to fully respect the norms and values of the silent period.
“Violating the blackout period rule in cyberspace will raise a moral question,” he said.
As Poudel added, political executives and supporters of election candidates are more likely than candidates to repost election-related content on social media during the silence period.
Given this possibility, the EC asked electoral candidates and their supporters to remove content posted on social networks that violates the electoral code of conduct before the start of the silence period and not to post new material.
The Nepal Telecommunications Authority has been tasked with regulating it. The EC also ordered Nepal Telecom not to provide SMS service during the silent period.
No messages, information and publicity in favor and against political parties and candidates should be displayed, shared, commented on and answered, as well as news in favor and against political parties and candidates should not be broadcast or published on social sites, online, in the print media and other means during times of silence.
The electoral code of conduct mentions that advertising for and against political parties and candidates, talk shows, arguments, analysis, question and answer programs must not be broadcast as well as articles spreading negative messages. , photos relating to the elections should not be published during this period. hour.
Information technology expert Ullekh Niraula said the EC cannot control social media in times of silence.
He said: “We have no mechanism to control social media. Social media users can share the news link posted a few days ago via Facebook, Twitter and TikTok. It is impossible to control it. »
It could be controlled to some extent by taking action stating their names who release election-related materials during the silence period, he argued.