New Delhi: Snapchat - messaging app which allows users’ to send disappearing photo and video messages - on Wednesday announced that it is guiding users to resources provided by the Election Commission of India. The announcement comes a day ahead of the first phase of 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Starting 28 March, Indian users started receiving a message from ‘Team Snapchat’ and had access to filters reminding them to check their online voter roll ahead of the deadline. Starting 10 April, users will get a message which will remind them to look up when their constituency is voting, and Snapchat will also send a Snap in each individual state that includes a link to polling location information hosted on the Electoral Commission of India’s portal.
Apart from reminders, Snapchat said it has also designed a range of creative tools including filters, stickers, bitmoji, lenses, and snap map integrations especially for the election. Users can use can also use lenses and filters to express themselves on issues around the elections and share them with friends.
Snap Map – a feature which let users share their location on the app - will offer a new way for its Indian community to check their online voter roll, look up when their state constituency is voting and encourage them to cast their vote with a ready link to the polling location.
The platform, in partnership with YLAC India (Young Leaders for Active Citizenship), is also hosting a geo-filter competition to encourage voter engagement and expression for the state elections in Mumbai and Delhi.
In addition, it has partnered with news media and content partners such as The Wire, HuffPost India and Brut India which will provide curated stories, publisher stories and shows, providing election coverage and analysis, as well as capturing on-ground voter sentiment across the country.
“Snapchat was created to empower people to express themselves, and we believe that exercising your right to vote is a powerful example of this. We're excited to be able to engage with the young people of India this way, and point them to the helpful resources provided by the Election Commission of India. We hope our creative tools and the content created by our partners create awareness and encourage our growing Snapchat community to have their say in the upcoming elections," said a spokesperson from Snapchat.
Snapchat India does not have a significant share of India’s nearly half a billion internet userbase which is primarily dominated by Facebook and Google. The platform has introduced local four languages (Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi and Punjabi), localised lenses, filters and stickers on festivals such as Holi, and for IPL teams to woo more users.
The platform’s focus in India came after its global user base took a hit; it lost 3 million users in early 2018. This came at a time when Facebook launched Snapchat’s flagship feature ‘Stories’ into all its apps including Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Messenger. Snapchat is also facing stiff competition from Chinese app TikTok which has gained popularity in the country.