Indian Express

Election fever: Social media abuzz with awareness campaigns

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electionssocialmedia India has the third largest Internet users base globally of more than 238 million users with a majority comprising of youth.

As India prepares itself to cast the first round of votes for Lok Sabha elections, social media platforms and tech companies have also caught on the poll fever with many coming out and urging youth to cast their vote in the country’s biggest battle for the ballot.

Be it Google’s ‘pledge to vote’ campaign, Facebook’s online political debates, Vebbler’s ‘the Ungli campaign’ or telecom operator MTS’ election tracker, firms are trying to woo voters ahead of this year’s general election.

More that 814 million voters, including over 23 million in the age group of 18-19 years, will exercise their franchise in the world’s largest democracy that will go to polls in nine phases, starting tomorrow and ending on May 12.

India has the third largest Internet users base globally of more than 238 million users with a majority comprising of youth. This includes well over a 100 million active on various social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

No wonder, social media platforms, technology firms, e-commerce portals and telecom operators are using this opportunity to connect with users.

Tech giant Google has revamped its election hub to include features like Pledge to Vote campaign, a ‘Google score’ tool for politicians, search trends infographics,YouTube election playlists and Hangout details for users.

Likewise, social networking giant Facebook has also launched an election tracker and has started a Facebook Talks series, which saw political leaders like Aam Aadmi Party founder Arvind Kejriwal and RJD chief Laly Parsad Yadav answering questions of Facebook users.

India’s homegrown personalised social media platform Vebbler has started ‘the Ungli Campaign’ aimed at engaging youth on conversations related to various topics surrounding the upcoming election and encouraging them to vote.

According to a study by IRIS Knowledge Foundation and Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), there are 160 high impact constituencies in India out of the total 543,which are likely to be influenced by social media during the
general elections.

Another IT products start-up firm FakeOff, which offers n app to identify fake profiles on Facebook, has launched a service to help users identify fake likes.

The software by the Israel-based firm assumes importance as the Election Commission of India has directed major social networking sites to ensure that contents displayed by them during the electoral process are not “unlawful or malicious or violative of the model code of conduct”.

Similarly, a Hyderabad-based start-up has started Smartur (www.smartur.com) for schools students, which uses a four-stage infotainment process — Fun Election Contest, Fun Facts, Fun PM Test and Children’s Manifesto – to generate interest among children.

Apart from technology firms, telecom operators are also doing their bit to engage with citizens to urge them to cast their votes.

Sistema Shyam Teleservices, which operates under MTS brand name, has launched an election tracker that showcases analysis of all conversations on social media about political parties and politicians.

This is aimed at giving Internet continued…

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