Social media may have earned a bad rap in recent years thanks to its role in spreading misinformation, fuelling conspiracy theories and a growing perception of its negative impact on elections, but across the board, social channels have got on board recently to support positive political engagement in preparation for the November election.
In the 2016 presidential election, around 138 million Americans voted, but that number only made up 58.1% of the eligible voting population in the US. Greater political participation is crucial in a well functioning democracy, and today is National Voter Registration Day: the perfect opportunity to get the country engaged and eligible to vote this November.
Twitter is making its “biggest push ever” to encourage people to vote and have their voices heard this election by getting people registered.
They are showing every US user a prompt on their home timeline to remind them to register via TurboVote, are sending a push alert to direct them to registration information, promoting a campaign from @TwitterGov, and have created a hashtag emoji for #NationalVoterRegistrationDay and #VoteReady.
Similarly, Instagram is partnering with TurboVote and is using ads in the Feed and Stories to provide a way for voters to get the latest information on how to register, how to update their registration, and how to look up their state’s voting rules.
They are also encouraging those on Instagram to use their “I voted” sticker in their stories, which will be linked to Get to the Polls, which helps people find their local polling location on election day.
Meanwhile, Facebook recently launched their Voter Information Center to help ensure your vote is counted, containing information on deadlines for requesting mail-in ballots and voting by mail in different states.
This is part of what CEO Mark Zuckerberg has called the “largest voting information campaign in American history,” with a goal set at helping 4 million people register to vote through Facebook’s platform.
Snapchat, a platform with a large young base, created a number of voting tools at the start of September, including a feature to allow users to register to vote directly in the app. Within a week, it was reported that 407,024 users had taken advantage of this and registered in the app – a hugely encouraging number, and an impressive impact for one channel.
TikTok don’t seem to be creating their own voter registration push, but that is understandable considering current events and its need to avoid unwanted political attention. However, that won’t stop the young creators on the site from stepping up.
“Tok the Vote” is a “creator-led coalition to empower Gen Z to vote and mobilize young leaders in the fight for progress,” according to the website. It understands that TikTok is the entertainment platform of choice for young people, and they want to encourage them to get involved in the conversation and get advocating for positive change.
According to CNN, participants in the TikTok movement will be encouraged to change the link in their TikTok bio to http://www.tokthevote.com, make their profile picture a “Tok the Vote” image, and post a video on their own page with the #TokTheVote hashtag.
Whatever platform you use, it’s likely you’ll be seeing plenty of information and advice on how and where to vote this election. It’s a critical year, so lets hope social media users and voters everywhere stand up and are counted this November.