Cit­i­zens re­quire more lit­er­acy on so­cial me­dia: ECB

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The Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of Bhutan (ECB) at the press con­fer­ence on 19 Oc­to­ber in Thim­phu shared that so­cial me­dia lit­er­acy for cit­i­zens are re­quired more than mon­i­tor­ing so­cial me­dia for defam­a­tory con­tent.

The third Na­tional As­sem­bly elec­tion was suc­cess­fully con­ducted in all the con­stituen­cies. How­ever, it was not with­out chal­lenges.

So­cial me­dia is con­sid­ered to be the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing agent in the elec­tions by some peo­ple. In­stead of fight­ing the is­sues, the prob­lem can be turned into an op­por­tu­nity for good un­less the defam­a­tory con­tent is not in­tended to cre­ate dishar­mony among par­ties and not against the in­sti­tu­tions.

The chief elec­tion com­mis­sioner, Ch­ogyal Dago Rigdzin, said that civic ed­u­ca­tion is re­quired in­stead of mon­i­tor­ing so­cial me­dia posts. “We should build trust in the so­ci­ety,” he said, “About 60 per­cent of our cit­i­zens are il­lit­er­ate but they are not ig­no­rant.”

Ch­ogyal Dago Rigdzin also said that if all the posts are mon­i­tored and con­trolled, there will be more chal­lenges in­stead of look­ing for res­o­lu­tions. As the elec­tion process is not go­ing to end in one or two years, he said cit­i­zens need ed­u­ca­tion and aware­ness that what­ever comes in face­book posts and in WeChat is not right in­for­ma­tion.

Plat­forms like face­book, WeChat and tweet­ers con­trib­utes to the shap­ing of opin­ions. How­ever, Ch­ogyal Dago Rigdzin said, the per­sonal posts in­tended to de­stroy peace and sovereignty of the na­tion had to be re­moved. “We have re­moved about 19 posts from face­book which was in­tended to bring dishar­mony in the so­ci­ety.”

ECB re­ported 28 face­book posts in the gen­eral elec­tions were found ob­jec­tion­able of which four were re­moved by the orig­i­nat­ing user and six were re­moved by the face­book au­thor­i­ties.

ECB's press re­lease states, “De­spite re­peated re­quest by Of­fice of Me­dia Ar­bi­tra­tor, the Face­book au­thor­i­ties did not remove 18 ”

Be­sides, the pri­mary round elec­tions saw 15 face­book posts ob­jec­tion­able of which three were re­moved by the orig­i­nat- ing so­cial me­dia users on the ad­vice of the mon­i­tors while four were re­moved by the face­book au­thor­i­ties. How­ever, de­spite re­peated re­quest by me­dia ar­bi­tra­tor, the face­book au­thor­i­ties did not remove eight.

The gen­eral elec­tions saw a to­tal of 21 dis­putes of which 14 were re­lated to so­cial me­dia and that all dis­putes and com­plaints were ad­dressed on time. Of the to­tal, 14 cases were re­lated to so­cial me­dia, while four cases were re­ported dur­ing the 48-hours no cam­paign pe­riod. How­ever, seven cases were dis­missed for be­ing base­less.

The me­dia ar­bi­tra­tor's of­fice re­ceived nine com­plaints re­lated to so­cial me­dia of which eight were in­ves­ti­gated and for­warded to the com­mis­sion and one was dis­missed.

The press re­lease also stated that dur­ing the gen­eral elec­tions, the 20 so­cial me­dia mon­i­tors mon­i­tored 189 WeChat groups on a daily ba­sis in the 47 con­stituen­cies.

ECB says no prob­lems as such were en­coun­tered in the con­duct of the polls. “No in­ci­dences were re­ported with re­gard to elec­tronic vot­ing ma­chines in any of the polling sta­tions.”

A to­tal of 797 postal bal­lots have re­jected be­cause of bal­lot pa­per left un­marked or not marked prop­erly, no iden­tity dec­la­ra­tion cer­tifi­cate or wrong VPIC with empty En­ve­lope A or B and in­com­pe­tent wit­ness among oth­ers.

The chief elec­tion com­mis­sioner, said was re­jected with sub­stan­tial rea­sons. He said, “It is about one per­cent re­jec­tion rate from the to­tal postal bal­lots re­ceived.” It is a re­duc­tion from the to­tal 2019 re­jec­tions in the pri­mary round.

The Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of Bhutan of­fi­cially de­clares the re­sults of the third par­lia­men­tary elec­tion in a press con­fer­ence last Fri­day.

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