21st October 2022, Kathmandu
A team from Facebook’s parent company Meta came to Nepal to look at the South Asian region at the invitation of the Election Commission.
Meta’s team, which discussed and consulted with Election Commission officials on Monday, held a conference on ‘National Election Hygiene’ in the capital on Tuesday. Meta’s team will stay in Kathmandu for a few more days and return to their work area.
“During the election, there is a high risk of political parties, candidates, and stakeholders spreading false information and hate speech against each other. Election Commission is trying an effort to discourage such activities through cooperation with the Facebook team. They agreed with it.
In the meeting with the commission’s team, Meta’s representatives promised that if the Election Commission complains about false information and hate speech, they will deal with it according to their policy.
The team stated that they will not follow Nepal’s national law but their policies. This will prevent the spread of hateful expressions and some wrong information can be discouraged, according to the officials of the Information Technology (IT) Division of the Commission.
According to Commission officials, if the Election Commission deems a post on social media to be false, misrepresented, or hate speech, it will send it to Meta, the company that operates Facebook. If Meta deems content to be objectionable at first glance, it will prevent that content from spreading to the general public. But the post will not be removed.
If some of the posts placed on Facebook are false and offensive and of a serious nature, the Facebook team has also promised to delete them. But that will not be based on the request of the commission but according to Facebook’s policy.
Also, he has already given a clear indication that he will not take steps against his policy. Quoting the statement of the team, an employee of the Commission said, “The user’s account will not be deactivated just because a topic has been posted on the network.”
Meta will also take action against fake accounts. A few days ago, the Election Commission asked to deactivate the page that was opened in its name and asked to vote for a party. Facebook has deleted that fake account. But Facebook did not give detailed information saying that it does not have its policy. If the details were received, the Election Commission had prepared to write to the cyber bureau of the police and request action.
They expressed their inability to address some of the issues requested by the Election Commission. For example, if a government official who is attracted by the code of conduct promotes the election through social media, the Commission will have to take action against him, Meta has indicated that no action can be taken against his post, said an employee of the Commission.
The Election Commission, which has started cooperating with social media user companies, is initially in favor of preventing the spread of false information and hate speech as much as possible. The Commission is doing this work with the assessment that if the hateful expressions posted by any candidate or party workers against each other are not spread to a large number and are limited to a small group, the atmosphere of the election will not be disturbed further.
In Nepal, there is no clear provision of legal provisions regarding loss and damages caused by thoughts and expressions. Although the Supreme Court has ordered the creation of a law on ‘hate speech, the Parliament has not been able to proceed with the process. The Election Commission proposed to cooperate with Facebook, Google, Twitter, Tik Tok, and YouTube.
Officials of the Commission say that Tiktok has given some assurances and the Twitter team is also in touch. But Google did not respond.