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Facebook gets involved in Indian elections

MUMBAI: Social networking site Facebook has launched the second season of its election series ‘Facebook Talks’ in the run-up to the 16th Lok Sabha elections in India.

With a user base of over 93 million in India, Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. The series is an opportunity to invite citizens to engage in open discussions in the period leading up to the elections.

Thus, in the second season, the series will focus on the citizen of India taking the show to three cities and talking about the issues affecting the people in special citizen townhalls.

Newslaundry.com editor-in-chief Madhu Trehan will host the citizen townhalls in Amritsar on 11 April, Varanasi on 18 April and Vadodara on 23 April, bringing out the issues people care about and focusing on the change they want.

In a blog post, Facebook India and South Asia public policy director Ankhi Das said, “In season two of Facebook Talks, we are going back to the core principles of the founding fathers and taking the show to the people in some important constituencies. You, the citizen of India will be the focus of the show.”

Moreover, Facebook groups will be created for Amritsar, Varanasi and Vadodara where the local Facebook community can post short video entries for selection to be a part of the citizen panel for the townhalls.

Through Facebook events, the Facebook community in these constituencies can register to attend and watch and participate in the event on location. Video from the town halls will be made available for viewing on Facebook India.

In the first season, Facebook Talks held a live interactive discussion with Arvind Kejriwal on 4 March where Facebook users could discuss the electoral agenda of country’s top politicians. Other guests included West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and others. Facebook users could pose questions directly to the key political contenders for 2014 general election.

It was earlier stated that BJP’s prime-ministerial candidate Narendra Modi would commence the interactive initiative on 3 March. However, he later cancelled his appointment.