Filipino Facebook users most engaged voters in Asia-Pacific

MANILA, Philippines —Facebook recorded about 22 million Filipino Facebook users actively engaging in conversations about the 2016 Philippine elections with friends and family members. 

"This has been the number one most engaged elections in Asia-Pacific," Elizabeth Hernandez, the head of APAC Public Policy at Facebook, told Rappler in an interview on Monday, May 9.

"They want to engage with their friends and family on Facebook, and we are seeing more of that in the 2016 elections," said Katie Harbath, global politics director at Facebook.

Data on the conversations were gathered starting November 2015, shortly after national candidates filed their certificates of candidacies. 

There are 47 million active Facebook accounts in the Philippines, a country of over 100 million people. It is the fastest growing app market in Southeast Asia.

"This has really been exciting times for us. Social media plays a critical role and this is the most conversational of all elections in the Philippines," Hernandez added.

Facebook launched on May 6 the "I’m a Voter" button, allowing about 51 million Filipinos in the social media network to indicate if they exercised their right to vote. 

The 2016 campaign was characterized by 3 social media trends, according to Rappler CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa. They are the rise of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the rise of Leni Robredo, and the return of the Marcoses.

Harbath said Facebook does not measure whether a conversation is positive or negative.

"We just measure engagement. What we are trying to do is give users access, making them informed." she said.

Hernandez said Facebook is hoping that Filipinos will continue active conversations after the elections. "We want to make sure that whoever the winners are, we will keep using Facebook to help them with governing," she said.

"So many of the candidates have been using Facebook to connect directly to their fans. We want to make sure it's as civic a discourse as possible. Both sides can share but respectfully," Hernandez added.

Facebook said it will work closely with law enforcement officials to try and quickly take down posts that violate its terms of service. – Rappler.com