Facebook and Google, two of the most popular service and platforms in India, have started reminding voters to register ahead of national voters day. The reminder is being pushed by Google to Android users while the voter registration will be sent to Facebook users who are eligible to vote. Facebook says it has over 200 million users in India, and has designed a ‘Register Now’ button to encourage Indian citizens to register themselves with the Election Commission of India. The social media giant said in a statement that the reminder will be rolled out in 13 Indian languages including English, Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi, Bengali, Urdu, Assamese, Marathi and Oriya.
During the General Elections 2019, many first time internet users will participate in the electoral process and these tech platforms are trying to help the netizens stay informed about the process. Facebook says the voter registration reminder is an effort to create an informed community and give its Indian users necessary tools to access the information needed to participate in the democratic process. Google says more than 850 million people are expected to caste their vote during general elections, and it is bringing more openness with its new transparency efforts.
“Facebook believes in giving voice to people and provide a safe platform for healthy debate and exchange of ideas. As India, goes into elections, we have made significant investments to fight misinformation and continue to facilitate constructive civic engagement. As part of our efforts, on National Voters Day, a voter registration reminder will appear at the top of the News Feed as a reminder service for all the voters,” said Shivnath Thukral, Public Policy Director for India & South Asia.
Facebook adds that when people click on the “Register Now” button, they will be redirected to the National Voters’ Services Portal, which will then guide them through the registration process. The portal will allow all those who are eligible to vote easily access and register themselves. The National Voters Day 2019 observed on January 25, 2019 and this is the second time that Facebook has rolled out voter registration service across India. In 2017, it had rolled out similar reminders in partnership with Election Commission of India.
Apart from these reminders, both Facebook and Google are also bringing ad transparency and other investments to ensure fair and democratic electoral process. After it was revealed that major tech platforms were manipulated to spread fake news and misinformation during the 2016 US Presidential Elections, Facebook, Google and Twitter have been on the crosshairs of regulators around the world and have been questioned whether they can prevent another instance of such foreign influence going undetected on their platforms.
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During the General Elections 2019 in India, Facebook says it had made investments to prevent bad actors from interfering with elections and has doubled the team working on safety and security. It has also introduced political ad transparency ahead of elections and has improved ability to detect and quickly remove fake accounts. “The objective is to not only protect the integrity of the elections, but also encourage healthy conversations on the platform,” Facebook said.
Google is also bringing improved ad transparency with India-specific Political Advertising Transparency Report and searchable Political Ads Library. “For the Lok Sabha Election 2019, Google will make electoral information from the Election Commission of India and other authoritative sources easily discoverable on Search,” Chetan Krishnaswamy, Director Public Policy, Google India said in a blog post.