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2021 Elections: Social networks campaign observation

Social media is a fundamental incubator for electoral advertisement, candidates announcement, parties’ programs presentation, support, communicating with citizens, and expressing opinions on legislative, regional and local elections participation on 8 September 2021.

However, the National Human Rights Council (CNDH) noted that communication on social networks provides for at least two main issues related to the elections, particularly relating to voting or not voting on the polling day.

On the one hand, the age group eligible to vote represents only 23% of the total accounts created (not even individuals) on the most used social network in Morocco.

On the other hand, the CNDH noted that one-third of the political parties participating in these elections did not publish any content on social networks. Meanwhile, there were nine parties, subject to observation, whose publication exceeded the threshold of 100 publications over nine days (between 26 August and 3 September 2021) on all social networks.

The CNDH observation on social media was based on axes related to the context of these elections in general and the institution functions in particular. In this regard, the CNDH noted the following initial observations:

Discrimination and digital violence against women
The CNDH noted that several political parties published their electoral posters withholding women candidates’ images in 26% of posters subject to monitoring.

The CNDH also monitored the imbalance in photos size between men and women candidates in several cases.

In the same context, the CNDH noted several publications of bullying against women candidates or supporters because of their profession, dress, or the shape of images in electoral posters. In some cases, it became harassment and sexual innuendo or attacking relevant women based on their dresses.

The CNDH followed several publications and videos documenting physical attacks. Some of them were violent against individuals and candidates.

Besides, there were confrontations and chases among supporters and election campaign teams. There also were allegations of using knives and batons against candidates and campaign participants. Moreover, the CNDH noted publication on allegations related to attacking political parties’ offices, violence, insult, and defamation during the election campaign.

Incitement to violence and hatred
The CNDH noted a candidate posted a comment on his Facebook page calling for hatred, violence, and “jihad” against “infidels.” He modified it after the alert of his political body members.

The CNDH also monitored slogans of violence in a stand calling for boycotting elections in Casablanca.

The CNDH also noted with great concern a post calling some political bodies infidels by a former detainee on the background of "Salafia jihadia".

Protection of personal data
The CNDH noted several publications breaching the protection of personal data and illegally using them. For example, there were publications including the names and numbers of the national identification cards of women candidates.

The CNDH also monitored posts of social networks users complaining that they received political advertisements as part of election campaigns through TEXT messages.

The CNDH noted the spread of videos of violent incidents and car wrecks and linking them to the Moroccan context. Based on the numbering of car plates, these events happened outside Morocco.

Several YouTube channels and pages, including foreign ones, republished old videos and different contexts and linked them to the Moroccan 2021 elections.

Download the full text of the Initial Report (Available in Arabic)