An EU election monitoring mission has observed that Facebook, during Sri Lanka's presidential election, had failed to take action against content which violated campaign silence rules.
This was revealed in the preliminary report of the EU Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) released to the public by its Chief Observer Marisa Matias in Colombo today (Nov 18).
The Election Commission (EC) declared a Silent Period, 48 hours before the poll, requiring the stoppage of political campaigning activities.
The preliminary report observed that failure of Facebook Inc. to take action had contributed towards hate speech and content based on ethnic tensions.
'Among the social media platforms, Facebook was the prime contributor to the crafting of political narratives in the public space and to setting the electoral agenda,' Matias told reporters.
In one of its key findings, the EU EOM said that about 200,000 individuals who turned 18 had not been able to vote due to the absence of a system to update the electoral list before the poll.
On election campaigning, the observation mission said 'religious and ethnic rifts' had been brought to the fore with 'strong nationalistic rhetoric', although campaigning had been peaceful.
The presidential election saw few incidents of violence, but absence of campaign financing laws, and biased media coverage marred the process, the EU EOM observed.
The report pointed out that the absence of campaign finance laws resulted in campaign coverage being monetised, with some candidates being "scarcely visible".
'Political party and campaign financing remain unregulated, depriving the election of an important element of transparency".
Further, the monitors observed that six out of the 35 presidential candidates have not submitted their asset declarations so far, with the deadline being three months from being nominated.
The mission stressed that the failure to pass laws clarifying the EC's constitutional powers has limited its capacity to issue regulations in order to ensure a level playing field.
In another key observation, the EU's observation mission described the legal framework for women's participation as "largely inadequate".
© Pakistan Press International, source Asianet-Pakistan