UK Election jumps on the social-networking bandwagon

Social networking site Facebook and video sharing site YouTube will be hosting a "Digital Debate", which will give potential voters the chance to put questions to the three main party leaders in the lead up to the UK general election.

In a bid to convince us that our voice counts Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg have agreed to take part in the project that will see questions from the public put forth through Facebook or YouTube.

The questions can be in either "text or video form, in the following categories: Economy; Health & Education; Law & Order; Foreign Policy; and Miscellaneous",  so pretty much everything and anything then.

The questions put will be publicly viewable, with each one being the subject of a voting system "using functionality powered by Google Moderator". The most popular questions will then be put to the leaders who will give their respective responses in video format 10 days before the election.

Richard Allan, Facebook's Director of Policy, said: “The dawn of the digital election this year is a transformative moment for democracy in Britain. By allowing voters to cross-examine their leaders, these digital debates will put the voters firmly in charge. This marks a decisive shift away from the constraints of top-down traditional media and will take full advantage of unique scale and reach of Facebook, thus changing the way that politicians campaign for good”.

Whether this can be seen as cross-examination is severely doubtful, and rather than a transformative moment for democracy, it perhaps appears to be more of a publicity stunt; with the social networks claiming to be champions of democracy and the party leaders having plenty of time to give a pre-prepared answer under very little pressure.

If you would like to take part you can ask your questions at www.youtube.com/ukelection and www.facebook.com/democracyuk

What do you think? Are you convinced? Let us know in the comments box below.



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