New Facebook feature may encourage voter registration among millennials
Facebook wants to increase voter turnout this November.
The social networking platform has launched various tools dedicated toward encouraging voter registration, especially among young people who are less likely to vote, by sending reminders to users and placing a "register now" button at the top of their news feeds. The initiative began in September.
The button redirects users to a federal government website that allows them to register.
Users will then be guided through the registration process for their specific state. After registering, users can share the news with their friends with an automatic status update.
Facebook has the unique ability and responsibility to remind people to vote so they can participate in the upcoming election, said Katie Harbath, Facebook’s director of government outreach in a USA TODAY article.
These are the small things that are very important and often overlooked, said Stephen Bronner, a Board of Governors Professor of Political Science and Director of Global Relations.
“It certainly can’t hurt, and there is no real criticism that one can make of this,” he said. “It can only be good.”
It seems convenient and simple to use, said Taylor Hills, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, who would use Facebook’s link if she was not already registered.
“It would help someone with a busy schedule,” she said. “It would also open voting to people that don't usually vote.”
Ross Baker, a distinguished professor in the Department of Political Science, does not believe Facebook's initiative will appeal to young people.
“I think that young voters would be more likely to turn out if the reminders came from Snapchat or Instagram,” he said. “Facebook reminders might get their grandparents to the polls.”
Harley Schwing, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said she does not plan on using Facebook’s button.
“This is just because I only use Facebook to post pictures and to look at other people’s posts,” she said.
Regardless, Schwing said the feature is a noble idea.
“People are obsessed with updating their profile and being able to share with the world every little thing they do,” she said. “They will want to be able to use the button, so they will probably vote.”
Noa Halff is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies. She is an associate news editor for The Daily Targum.