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Facebook to Bring Specific Tools to Boost Election Engagement

Both the new tools are being made available in 12 local languages across India

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This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

Social-networking site Facebook on Tuesday launched two new India-specific tools — “Candidate Connect” and “Share You Voted” — to boost civic engagement on its platform during the general elections that commence in April.

While “Candidate Connect” will help people learn more about candidates, the “Share You Voted” will provide people with polling information and enable them to announce and celebrate their vote, the company said in a statement.

“We have more than tripled the team working on safety and security to 30,000 people, introduced unprecedented transparency requirements for political advertising, improved our ability to detect and remove fake accounts and stepped up our efforts to fight false news and misinformation,” said Samidh Chakrabarti, Director, Product Management for Civic Integrity, Facebook.

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A photo shows the Facebook app icon on an iPhone in New York, Feb. 19, 2014. VOA

Starting next week, voters in India, either through a bookmark in their settings, or through a message in their News Feed would be able to watch 20-second videos of candidates contesting from their respective constituencies.

The company said that the questions included in “Candidate Connect” are outcomes of locally conducted consumer research programmes.

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“We aim to better equip our users as they look forward to participating in the political process of the country,” Chakrabarti further added.

Both the new tools are being made available in 12 local languages across India. (IANS)

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Political ad Spend on Facebook Picks up in April

The 2019 Lok Sabha election is being held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19

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FILE - The Facebook app icon is shown on an iPhone in New York. VOA

Political parties and their affiliates ramped up spending on social media ads ahead of the third phase of Lok Sabha elections, scheduled for Tuesday, show data released by Facebook Ad Library.

Indians spent around Rs 7 crore for running political ads on Facebook and Instagram in the first 20 days of April, while the amount spent on these platforms in February-March was about Rs 10 crore.

Facebook’s Ad Library, a searchable database, includes ads related to politics and issues of national importance run on Facebook or Instagram.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its affiliates continue to lead the ad spending on Facebook. The official BJP page took the top spot in the list of spenders on social media platforms. Of the Rs 1.3 crore that it spent on Facebook, Rs 44.32 lakh was spent during the week ending April 20.

The official Congress page on Facebook spent Rs 56.69 lakh during February-April 20.

However, supporters and affiliates of political parties account for most of the spending on the social media platforms.

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FILE – An Indian man surfs a Facebook page at an Internet cafe in New Delhi, India, Feb. 9, 2016. VOA

For example, the pro-BJP pages — Bharat Ke Mann Ki Baat (Rs 2.23 core), My First Vote For Modi (Rs 1.08 crore) and Nation with NaMo (Rs 1.20 crore) among others — spent much more than the Congress.

Similarly, the pro-Congress page “Bande Mein Hai Dum” spent Rs 2.59 lakh for drumming up support for the grand old party on Facebook and the Indian Youth Congress spent Rs 6.52 lakh on the social media platform.

Among the regional parties, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the YSR Congress and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) lead the spending table on Facebook.

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On Twitter, the accounts spending over $100 during the past week belonged to BJP MLA from Mandawa Narendra Kumar, Mumbai Congress unit chief Milind Deora, Congress leader and former Union Minister Subodh Kant Sahai, BJD President Naveen Patnaik and the TN Youth Party.

The 2019 Lok Sabha election is being held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19. (IANS)