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EC to post poll results on FB, Twitter in real time

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, November 26, 2013
First Published: 21:04 IST(26/11/2013) | Last Updated: 01:51 IST(27/11/2013)
To use social media for speedy dissemination of information on counting of votes, the Election Commission is for the first time set to post the counting and final results of elections in five states on its Facebook page and Twitter handle.
 
The results would be available in a social media-friendly format that will help internet users to track which party or candidate is leading in a particular state or constituency.
 
“We are looking at how the information can be provided in an internet reader friendly format,” a senior EC official said.
 
The commission has a Facebook page and a Twitter handle but never before have they been used to display election results to a large social media audience.
 
The poll watchdog’s Facebook page has just 130 likes and Twitter handle has 120 followers, miniscule compared to other government organisations and public functionaries.
 
It is primarily because most of the information available on EC social media outreach is not updated frequently.
 
The EC has admitted that it was not pro-active on social media because of manpower constraints and said that “things would change” in the coming months.
 
The EC sees the counting of votes on December 8 as an opportunity to re-launch its social media presence and has realised that it could reach a wider audience through the emerging communication platform as done by civil society bodies engaged in electoral reforms.
 
The Association for Democratic Reforms is providing information on the past record of about 7,000 candidates contesting the current polls through Facebook.
 
About 11 million people in India follow Facebook and Twitter audience is 82 million strong, according to industry data. India this year recorded social networking growth of 37.4%, one of the highest in the world.
 
“Those tracking election results on the web would get authentic information as it would be sourced from the counting centers in the poll-bound states,” an EC official said, adding the technical details are being worked out.
 
The EC last week held discussions with internet platform companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google to consider the possibility of quick flow of information.
 
The commission wanted to know whether such a huge flow of data of about 7,000 candidates could be handled by the servers.
 
“That will not be an issue,” said an official of one of the companies which participated in the meeting in EC.
 
Official sources privy to the meeting also said the Google was also interested in tracking the election results through its various internet tools including Google Maps.
 
The EC is examining whether the information sought can be directly provided to Google or not. 
 
The assembly elections results would be an experiment before the EC uses the internet platforms for attracting growing social media traction during 2014 general elections.
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