Yajiao’s Blog

Social networks play an active role in the UK’s election

Posted on: 03/05/2010

The first digital election debate comes along with the UK election in 2010. Both Facebook and YouTube join the online debate and provide an interactive platform for public to ask questions to Nick Clegg, Gordon Brown and David Cameron. The five main categories of the questions are: economy, health and education, foreign policy, law and order. Three party leaders provide video responses and users can vote for the best answers. Totally, over 5000 question submitted and more than 10,000 votes on the questions.

Speaking about the online debate, Facebook’s Director of Policy Richard Allan said: “The dawn of the digital election this year is a transformative moment for democracy in Britain. By allowing voters to cross-examine their leaders, these digital debates will put the voters firmly in charge. This marks a decisive shift away from the constraints of top-down traditional media.”

Politicians also take advantage of social networks to promote their campaign. To have a further engage with constituents, an increasing number of MPs open accounts on Twitter and Facebook, and upload video on YouTube as well. Another function of social media in election is to bring back voters between 18 to 24 years old.

However, some argue that Twitter and blog are not as efficient to be a political tool as people’s expectation. Firstly, few online users follow the irrelevant tweets from candidates, unless they publish something which journalists can find news value on that. Secondly, there is a limited number of candidates keep writing blogs, because they fear of posting anything they might regret or cause misunderstanding.

Facebook will add an “I’ve voted” button at the top of the News Feed for UK users over 18 on 6 May. Facebook will put the vote tracker at the top of UK users news feeds as “a convenient reminder to get to the polling station”. The same system was used to follow voting in the 2008 US Presidential election.

YouTube UK election channel

UK election 2010 page on Facebook

More articles about the influence of the Internet on the election:

UK general election 2010-online journalism is ordinary from Online Journalism Blog

Welcome to the first e-elction from Guardian


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