“Starting from 1st July till 4th July, the voter registration reminder will be sent to people on Facebook in India who are eligible to vote,” Facebook said, on a day when the company crossed 2 bln users on a global level. The total population of the world is just over 6 bln.
In India, said Facebook, it has 180 million registered users.
“The ‘Register Now’ button is designed to encourage Indian citizens to register themselves with the Election Commission of India,” it said.
This is the first time Facebook’s voter registration reminder has been rolled out across India. Earlier, similar reminders have been rolled out in partnership with Chief Electoral Officers during the State elections of 2016 and 2017.
The reminder will be in 13 Indian languages – English, Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi, Bengali, Urdu, Assamese, Marathi and Oriya.
The move is part of the Election Commission of India’s special drive to enrol left out electors.
“This is a step towards fulfilment of the motto of ECI that ‘NO VOTER TO BE LEFT BEHIND’,” said Nasim Zaidi, Chief Election Commissioner of India.
He said the Facebook initiative will strengthen the commission’s campaign and encourage voters to register.
“People use Facebook to learn, talk and get involved with issues that matter to them,” said Ankhi Das, Public Policy Director for India.
“We believe that democracies are stronger when more people are engaged – that’s why we are encouraging everyone who is eligible to register to vote and connecting them with resources.”
Facebook has been a tool of tremendous empowerment for citizens across the world, and has helped people get access to information without being mediated by big, corporate media. This has resulted in a rise in popularity for ‘anti-establishment’ politicians — from Senator Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in the US to Jeremy Corbyn in the UK — who would otherwise not have made it past traditional media filters.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi too is a fan of the democratizing power of social media.
However, an unintended side-effect of the empowerment of the population has been that it has spawned a new group of people who take advantage of the credulousness of ordinary folk to spread fake news.