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Google dedicates site for Philippine elections

Google Philippines this week launched a first-of-its kind site aggregating election-related news and multimedia content from the country’s largest media outfits.

The Elections Page curates stories produced from the news rooms of ABS-CBN, GMA, PTV, SolarTV and internet news sites Rappler, PhilStar.com, Inquirer.net and Interaksyon.com.

To bring stories to life online, Google set up a YouTube channel to host up-to-date broadcast coverage from the networks. Google+ was also utilized to encourage discussions online among friends via Hangouts or exchange views with the reporters themselves who have Google+ accounts.

Even election-related hotspots are plotted on Google Maps, in addition to voting precinct locations currently being plotted by volunteers that will be made available on the page before election day 13 May.

Gail Tan, Google Philippines Communications Manager, said the platform revolutionizes how election information is shared online – and effort she sees “merges traditional with new media.”

Google created its first elections page five years ago when its engineers noticed a huge increase in search traffic around the election period in the United States. Today, 16 countries including Malaysia and Thailand have elections pages that aid voters in their decisions before elections are due.

“With more resources available online, catching up on election news becomes a simple but crucial step in honing more discerning voters. We hope the Elections Page does just that,” said Deborah Nga, Country Lead for the Philippines on Public Policy and Government Affairs, Google Southeast Asia.

The internet is rapidly becoming the preferred medium Filipinos use to be updated on current events. A 2012 survey from TNS showed that 45 % of Filipino respondents logged on the Internet for news. In comparison, 36% listened to radio, 12% read newspapers and 4% looked over magazines.

Around 53 million Filipino voters, including 700,000 absentee voters abroad, will be flocking to voting centers the week after next to elect officials in top government positions.

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