India’s general election this year will be the largest democratic election that has ever been conducted in the world — and also one of Facebook’s most ambitious pushes into electoral politics. As Indians head to the polls over the next month to elect a new ruling party and prime minister, Facebook has launched a multifaceted campaign in the country, exploring what people want from Facebook on a political level and introducing new features, as likes have surged for candidates. The scale of the elections, estimated to cost $600 million, is staggering. Ballots will be cast at 930,000 polling booths and 1.4 million electronic voting machines, with 11 million people — both civilians and government officials — helping facilitate. More than 100 million Indians are newly eligible to vote, bringing the total Indian electorate up to 815 million people. Half of India’s total population is younger than 24, and about 150 million people in India’s total electoral pool are first-time voters. According to some estimates, more than 40% of India’s eligible voters are between 18 and 35 years old.
Surveys have found that 70% of all Indian students own smartphones. This is all to say: For the first time in Indian history, there is a significant overlap between the urban, educated, tech-savvy India and the India that lines up to cast its vote.
“Our mission is to make the world more open and connected,” Facebook’s Public Policy Manager Katie Harbath told BuzzFeed in a phone interview. “Part of that is helping to connect citizens with the people who represent them in government. Elections are the first way that citizens have that opportunity to voice their opinions.”
The scale of the Indian elections is also an enormous opportunity for Facebook, which recently announced its ambitions to reach 1 billion users in India. Already, India is the only country aside from the United States where Facebook’s consumer base exceeds 100 million, and it’s certainly the only country in the world where Facebook can hope to corral 1 billion new users.
Full Article: Why Facebook Is So Interested In India’s Elections.