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NEW DELHI : In a bid to provide information to voters ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections, social media network Facebook on Tuesday announced that it has launched a new feature called ‘Candidate Connect’. The feature will let contesting candidates upload 20-second videos in which they can introduce themselves and highlight how they will address outstanding challenges in their constituencies if elected to office. It will also let them highlight their past achievements.

Starting next week, voters in the country, either through a bookmark in their settings or through a message in their news feed will be able to watch these videos of candidates contesting from their respective constituencies. The objective of the tool is to enable candidates to engage with the electorate. Facebook said that the questions included as part of the ‘Candidate Connect’ tool are an outcome of a locally conducted consumer research.

The videos, which will be grouped by constituency, will be shown at the top of the news feed of every user.

While ‘Candidate Connect’ will help people learn more about candidates contesting for Lok Sabha elections from their constituency, a feature called ‘Share You Voted’ will provide people with polling information and enable them to announce and celebrate the fact that they have voted. Both the tools will be made available in 12 local languages.

“We believe encouraging civic participation is an important contribution Facebook can make to the community. With the introduction of tools like ‘Candidate Connect’ and ‘Share You Voted’, we aim to better equip our users as they look forward to participating in the political process of the country," said Samidh Chakrabarti, director - product management for civic integrity, Facebook.

Facebook said that it has more than tripled the team working on safety and security to 30,000 people ahead of general elections which are scheduled to be held from 11 April to 19 May.

“We are working hard to prevent bad actors from interfering with elections on Facebook. We have introduced unprecedented transparency requirements for political advertising, greatly improved our ability to detect and quickly remove fake accounts, and stepped up our efforts to fight false news and misinformation," added Chakrabarti.

The social media platform has recently expanded its fact-checking team, which fact-checks posts and visual media in languages including English, Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Malayalam, and Marathi. It also said it will carry disclaimers with all political ads that appear on its platform.

With over 240 million user base, Facebook has a significant presence in India. The platform along with other social media sites such as Twitter has been under government scrutiny on issues around fake news, misinformation and transparency. 

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