Daniel Zovatto, International IDEA’s Regional Director for the Latin America and the Caribbean, speaks about the risk of social media misuse. Photo credit: Argentine Council for International Relations
A Digital Ethical Commitment was the result of a collective effort to improve public information sharing
As Argentina prepared for the October 2019 elections, it faced multiple challenges. One of these challenges was to develop an effective strategy to allow electoral authorities to confront the misuse of social networks during electoral campaigns. Another was to pass a new law on political finance in the National Congress, which would allow for greater transparency, control and accountability. International IDEA’s Latin America and the Caribbean programme has worked with the National Electoral Chamber (CNE), the Wilson Center, the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands and the Argentine Council for International Relations to support the Argentine government in addressing these challenges. The work contributed to the signing of the Digital Ethical Commitment in May 2019, which is an agreement between the CNE; political parties; social media platforms (including Google, Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp); the Association of Journalistic Entities; the Latin American Internet Association; and the Association of Digital Journalism to follow common ethical guidelines when using social media, and to prevent the spread of fake news.
This Digital Ethical Commitment allowed the CNE to sign bilateral agreements with large social media and internet companies:
• Twitter agreed to facilitate the live transmission of the three presidential debates and advised the CNE on how to create a bot that would allow Twitter to share key electoral information.
• Facebook sent a reminder to vote on election day to users over the age of 16 and created an ‘informed voter’ button to redirect users to an external CNE website where they could find relevant information.
• Google allowed the transmission of the presidential election debates through its YouTube platform. International IDEA provides ongoing advisory services to the Ministry of Interior and the CNE to reform the political financing system.
This assistance helped promote a new law on political financing, which was approved in the National Congress on 15 May 2019. One of the most relevant aspects of this new law is that it allows companies to donate money to electoral campaigns, provided these contributions do not exceed 2 per cent of the total campaign expenses. Furthermore, the law requires that donors must be identified on the CNE website, and all contributions must be made exclusively through the formal banking system.
Through advisory services, International IDEA supported public interest groups and policymakers in Argentina to prevent and mitigate threats to democracy posed by the misuse of social networks during electoral campaigns.
Read more stories about International IDEA's results in our Annual Outcome Report 2019: Democracy In Action.