Facebook is preparing to deliberately influence mid-term elections in the US UU After spending two years trying to protect against foreign interference. Instagram plans to post warnings in TurboVote-powered stories and feeds that will be directed to all US users. UU Over 18 years old and will guide them towards information on how to register correctly and abide by the voting rules. Then, when election day arrives, users will be able to add a "I voted" sticker to their photos and videos that link to voting information such as the polling place they should go to.
Combined, these efforts could boost voter turnout, especially among the main Instagram audience of the millennial generation. If the base of a political party leans younger, it could receive an advantage. "Before National Voter Registration Day, we are helping our community register to vote and reach the polls on November 6," writes Instagram. "Starting today, Instagram will connect US voters with the information they need to register."
In 2010, a non-partisan "Get the vote" message on top of the Facebook News Feed was estimated to have boosted 340,000 additional votes. The Nature study suggested that "more than the 0.6% growth in participation between 2006 and 2010 could have been caused by a single message on Facebook." That's significant considering that the 2000 elections had a margin of only 0.1 percent of voters.
You can see the Instagram video ads to vote below, which feature a purple Grimace character and are clearly aimed at a younger audience. They deliberately avoid any democratic or republican image, but they also stick to a polished, American style that could ensure that the clips do not get confused with Russian propaganda.
Earlier this year, the company admitted that 120,000 Instagram posts by the Russian military intelligence Group of the Internet Research Agency reached 20 million Americans in an attempt to sow discord around the presidential election of 2016. They used a variety of image memes to polarize social problems and try to divide the country. Facebook has since doubled its security personnel to 20,000, required identity verification for political advertisers and has intensified its efforts to eliminate dozens of false accounts associated with electoral interference.
Russian misinformation attacks can still tire users of learning about voting on social networks. But more participation means a more democratic society, so it's easy to see the positive impact of Instagram's efforts here. The question remains whether this electoral impulse will end up being scrutinized in Congress in another inevitable hearing about social networks and political bias.