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Blatant violation of election laws in social media despite silent period

Image: Gotabaya Rajapaksa released an interview with Iraj on 14th November.

Tough all campaigning for the 2019 presidential election came to an end at midnight on Wednesday (13), election propaganda activities continued widely over social media during the so-called “silent period” in direct violation of election laws.

Social media such as Facebook and Twitter were rife with propaganda posts by accounts affiliated to the two main candidates, Gotabaya Rajapaksa from the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and Sajith Premadasa from the New Democratic Front (NDF).

Popular musician Iraj Weeraratne, who has campaigned vigorously on social media for the SLPP, posted a 40-minute interview he did with Gotabaya Rajapaksa on his YouTube channel on Thursday (14). The video had been viewed almost 254,000 times by Friday evening (15).

Meanwhile, NDF candidate Sajith Premadasa’s official Facebook page was also observed posting propaganda content after campaigning had officially ended. Not to be outdone, various MP representing the two main parties were also using their official social media accounts to share propaganda content in blatant violation of election laws. Ministers Mangala Samaraweera and Ajith P. Perera were among those who shared content in support of Sajith Premadasa while MPs Kanchana Wijesekera and Udaya Gammanpila were among MPs who shared content supporting Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

There were also dozens of posts on unofficial pages supporting both candidates that shared content specifically designed to sling mud at their rival candidate.

All this took place despite appeals by the Election Commission for candidates and their supporters to use social media responsibly and assurances by Facebook that it would act against illegal election propaganda.

Sunday Times



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