YouTube and Facebook join UK election debate

Leaders of the three main political parties will use Facebook and YouTube to respond to questions from the public in a digital online debate before next month’s General Election.

Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg will provide video responses to questions posted by users of the two social network sites ten days before the Election. They will tackle five categories: the economy, health and education, foreign policy, law and order and miscellaneous.

The online debate will be the first of its kind in a UK election, and is intended to compliment the three live TV debates that the party leaders will participate in prior to polling day.

Each candidate will answer ten questions — two from each topic category — in pre-prepared video broadcasts of up to a minute. It is hoped that by recording the videos separately it will avoid the back-biting that dominates live political debates on television, and encourage an array of questions from members of the public who wouldn’t normally get involved in the political process.

Speaking about the online debate, Facebook’s Director of Policy Richard Allan 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.”

Facebook’s involvement in the election has already been significant. The website displayed messages on Saturday (10 April) to UK users encouraging them to register to vote on 6 May.

The political parties have becoming increasingly familiar with social networks, with a number of MPs using accounts on Twitter and Facebook to engage with their constituents as well as filming messages to be broadcast on YouTube.

If you’re interested in joining the Facebook and YouTube discussion, you can post your questions for the Digital Debate by following these links to Facebook and YouTube.


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