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Social Media Platforms and Voting: Are Registration Efforts Really Working?


Registration is one thing, but what about getting users to the polls? By data originating from TurboVote and provided to teen vogue According to a Snapchat spokesperson, about 57% of the more than 450,000 people the app helped register to vote in 2018 actually voted, according to Gross. She says these numbers are important because research shows that if you vote for the the first three times you are eligibleyou will be a “lifetime habitual voter”.

But Snapchat’s political partnership manager doesn’t see the platform’s features as focusing solely on elections. The focus on civic engagement, Gross says, needs to be “always on.” In the future, she hopes to create augmented reality experiences that simulate the experience of going to the polls for the first time.

According to Gross, it all comes down to eradicating barriers to entry: “The user experience of our democracy is broken for this next generation of Americans. We continue to innovate and push ourselves to be better and show off for the Snapchat generation as they deserve.

While Snapchat is positioning itself as a leader in the voter outreach space, it’s certainly not the only company working to educate its users. Given the rampant spread of election misinformation on social media, platforms such as TikTok and Facebook have started to recognize that providing users with voting tools and fighting conspiracy theories must be part of their mission.

TikTok’s approach to civic engagement has largely been reactive rather than proactive, based on data provided by the platform’s communications team. “Our community comes to TikTok to create, discover and watch content on a diversity of topics and interests,” said Jamie Favazza, spokesperson for TikTok. teen vogue. “While TikTok is not the go-to place for political news, we are focused on providing viewers with access to authoritative information on topics of social importance, including elections.”

During the 2020 cycle, TikTok worked to “reduce the discoverability” of election misinformation, like calling a race before the results have been verified by The Associated Press. The company also introduced a voter guide that offered resources on registering to vote, where to vote, and help with any issues related to the voting process.

There seemed to be real demand for what the company was producing: TikTok’s 2020 US election guide was visited nearly 18 million timesaccording to the company’s transparency report, and banners directing viewers to the election guide were added to nearly 7 million videos.

At Facebook, voting efforts have followed much the same course as at Snapchat, providing resources to help users register to vote and monitor election results. Facebook, including Instagram and Messenger, believes he had helped about 4.5 million people register to vote, while about 140 million people visit the voting information center.

It’s no surprise that the tech companies behind these efforts believe their initiatives are working. But academics have a slightly more nuanced view: In 2020, the majority of people aged 18 to 29 and the majority of these 18-19 year olds said they got election information from roommates or friends, according to a study by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) of the Tufts University, which has in partnership with Snapchat to help the company’s voter engagement efforts.

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