Facebook users to grill party leaders

The three main political party leaders are to answer questions from users of internet sites Facebook and YouTube, it was announced today.

Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg will each record video responses to questions submitted online by users of the sites.

The videos will appear on both sites about 10 days before the May 6 election.

Richard Allan, Facebook's director of policy, 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 and will take full advantage of the unique scale and reach of Facebook, thus changing the way that politicians campaign for good."

Peter Barron, director of communications for YouTube's owner Google, said: "Although the televised debates will be a historic first, we feel that there is an opportunity for a different type of platform that allows voters to be in charge of the questions.

"By collaborating with Facebook to put together one initiative we hope to enable as many voters as possible from across the UK to take part."

Questions can be submitted from today and will be displayed online for users to vote on, with the most popular queries being put to the party leaders.