In run up to 2019, Twitter's BlueRoom to host interviews with politicians

Illustration by Binay Sinha
Tired of just retweeting what a political party or its leaders post on micro-blogging platform Twitter? Want to understand the finer points of a party’s agenda, or, maybe, ask a leader why he pulled off a certain stunt in Parliament? 

Tweeple, or Twitter users, will soon have a chance to engage in deeper and more meaningful interactions with them.

Upping its game in the run-up to the 2019 elections, Twitter is coming up with a series of initiatives to gain maximum users. The social media giant plans to conduct public interviews of leaders of various political parties, political commentators, and student union leaders in its BlueRoom.

So far, Twitter has used its BlueRoom format for freewheeling chats between fans and actors, celebrity chefs, singers, and rappers, among others. Twitter has over 23 million users in India. 

“BlueRoom is a spot to host interviews, Q&As, performances and more. Twitter plans to now have various leaders come to its offices and answer questions asked by Twitter users. There will also be a moderator, and the answers will be broadcast live. The company is fine-tuning the concept and zeroing in on people who could be invited for interviews,” said a source close to the firm. 

Twitter did not respond to a detailed questionnaire on the issue.

Both Twitter and Facebook are bolstering their backend operations by tying up with political analysts, psephologists and social media analysts. These players are trying to not only add users, but also gain respect as platforms giving a fair and balanced view of the elections and political parties.

In the initial talks Twitter has had with different parties, many have shown an interest in taking their campaign to the micro-blogging platform. 

“Starting from the two biggest national parties to smaller regional ones, everyone has shown interest in the plan. This will be a free and fair platform where every political party will have a chance to interact with voters,” added the source.

Mark Zuckerberg-led Facebook has also kick-started various plans and programmes around elections. In April, the company said it was working internally as well as through third parties to prevent misinformation from making its way to the platform.

“We take it very seriously. There is an election integrity effort going on in Facebook. We are dealing with misinformation and disinformation on our service. It is on top of our mind. We are internationalising the tools. It is particularly important in the context of elections,” Monika Bickert, vice-president of global product management at Facebook, had said.

It has also promised to keep track of money spent by Indian political parties on advertisements posted on the website. 

Also, all content will be vetted to ensure that false information is not being disseminated to influence voters. 

Assembly elections in key states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh are scheduled to be held over the next few months. The Lok Sabha elections are slated for early 2019.

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