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How Facebook And Twitter Won The Indian Elections

More than half of the Indian population with access to the internet has a Facebook account.

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The Bharatiya Janata Party has won a historic victory in what was the world's largest democratic elections in India. Narenda Modi, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, will be the country's next head of government.

Amit Dave / Reuters / Reuters

But these elections have been the first where social media has had such a great impact. In the run-up to the elections, Facebook received its 100 millionth user in India. This is no mean feat, especially considering the latest figures say there are 170 million Indian who have access to the internet.

A study earlier this year also stated this was the first election that would be influenced by social media, due to the number of Indians who are active on a variety of networks.

A 2013 study by the Iris Knowledge Foundation and Internet and Mobile Association of India said: “Social media usage is now sufficiently widespread to have the power to influence the outcome of the next elections to the Lok Sabha and consequently government formation…

"With Facebook emerging as the gorilla in the social media space, the clout that Facebook users enjoy is immense.”

And indeed, 29 million Indians discussed the elections on Facebook. On the day of the elections also ran a notice reminding its Indian users that it was election day, and encouraging them to share the fact they voted.

Narendra Modi is now the second most-liked politician on Facebook, with 14 million likes, coming second only to Barack Obama. But there's more to social media than Facebook.

Despite the popularity of sites like Facebook, the election hasn't only been fought on one front. A tweet by Narenda Modi last night is already the most popular tweet in India.

There have also been 56 million election-related tweets since January 2014. To put this into context, there was only one Indian politician on Twitter during the last Indian elections.

India has won! भारत की विजय। अच्छे दिन आने वाले हैं।

Narendra Modi@narendramodi

India has won! भारत की विजय। अच्छे दिन आने वाले हैं।

7:39 AM - 16 May 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

The chart below showcases the number of times each major political party and candidate was mentioned on Twitter. Orange refers to Modi, green to Arvind Kejriwal of the AAP and blue for Rahul Gandhi of the National Congress party.


During the elections themselves, many of those on social networks also uploaded images of themselves with ink-stained fingers, as a proud demonstration of the fact they had voted.

This really was an election played out on social media.