Facebook's Got A Finger in India's Political Pie
BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, March 5 2014
Facebook is an increasingly active political force in India. The company launched their Indian election tracker Tuesday to coincide with the first Facebook Talks Live digital broadcast, “Town Hall” style conversations in which 2014 candidates field questions submitted by Facebook users. These projects build on the get-out-the-vote collaboration between the Times of India and Facebook, which was announced in September.
“We have always been focused on making sure that we give people the power to share, and to make the world more open and connected,” said Ankhi Das, Facebook's Public Policy Director in India and South Asia. “This and the opportunity to engage actively and regularly with constituents have led campaign teams and leaders to use the medium, making Facebook a core part of the political infrastructure in the country.”
The India Election Tracker has links to the Facebook Talks Live events, a poll asking voters “Which of the following issues (educations, jobs, healthcare, and corruption) matters most to you this election season?” and a graph of Facebook mentions of 2014 candidates. Currently, the Indian People's Party (BJP) leads by a wide margin.
According to the company, there are more than 93 million active Facebook users in India. There are 814 million registered voters in the country. The Hindustani Times reported that social media ballot battles could influence three to four percent of votes, according to two surveys.
Of the more than 800 million registered voters in India, nearly 90,000 are young voters—between 18 and 22—eligible to vote for the first time.
Facebook is not alone in angling to be a “core part of the political infrastructure”—at the end of 2013 Google launched an online portal for all things related to the assembly elections (a forerunner to the national elections to be held this spring).
Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.