Anticipating a greater use of social media platform for electioneering, the Election Commission of India has stepped up vigil against the posting of uncertified political advertisements or violating paid news norms.

For the first time, social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, will also be held responsible for posting uncertified political advertisements and not providing to the Commission expenditure information on advertisements by political parties or candidates. Thus far the responsibility was confined to the political parties and their candidates.

“We issued circulars to social media sites yesterday, asking them to be more vigilant on advertisements that are not pre-certified by the Commission. All campaign expenses on social media will be reported as election expenses for the contesting candidates. The sites will also have to show us the expenditure details,” Akshay Rout, Director-General, Election Commission, said here today.

The social networking sites will now have to maintain records of expenditure incurred by political parties or candidates on advertisements so that these could be provided to the Commission when asked for.

Rout agrees that tracking content on social media sites is difficult, as the Election Commission’s Media Certification and Monitoring Committees are already “stretched by strength.” “This is a new experience for us. Tracking social media sites is not in their ambit. That is why we have now put the onus on these sites also,” he told Business Line on the sidelines of a workshop on election regulations here.

A recent KPMG report said the mobile Internet users in India are expected to grow from 4.1 million in 2009 to 164 million by next year.