Facebook Launching Massive Voter Registration Drive For Presidential Election But Who Will it Help?

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Facebook is going to use its news feed to remind people to register to vote in the presidential election. The effort will be aimed at anyone over 18 years old but obviously is expected to affect Facebook’s younger base of users.

On one hand, you could think this is designed to help Hillary Clinton who is desperately in need of support from Millennial voters. On the other hand, Donald Trump has a stronger base of support on Facebook.

USA Today has the story:

Facebook launches first nationwide voter registration drive

Facebook wants you to get out to vote.

On Friday, Facebook users in the U.S. who are 18 and up will receive a reminder to register to vote at the top of their News Feed.

The voter registration drive, Facebook’s first to roll out nationwide, is tapping the power of social media to influence millions of people and their friends, especially young people who are less likely to turn out. The reminder will be sent out over the next four days, Facebook said.

Clicking on the “Register Now” button sends voters to the federal government’s vote.USA.gov which guides them through the registration process in their state. After registering to vote, users can share their status, a subtle form of social pressure for friends to perform their civic duty, too.

Facebook did not provide an estimate of how many people would see the notification. But the giant social network is taking aim at a consistent pattern of voter apathy. Nearly 35% of U.S. citizens eligible to vote in 2012 were not registered, according to Census data.

What makes this significant, is the number of people Facebook can reach and persuade to vote. In any state where the race is close, it wouldn’t take much to tip the scales either way and Facebook could make a huge difference:

Earlier this year the Silicon Valley company experimented with a voter drive during the primaries, encouraging people in individual states to register.

That voter registration drive proved Facebook’s ability to spur people to action. Nearly 200,000 registered to vote on the California Secretary of State’s website after Facebook began a voter registration push in the state in May. Other states reported similar results. A 2012 study by Nature found 340,000 additional voters turned out for the 2010 midterm elections because they saw a reminder to vote on Facebook.

In all, Facebook estimates 1.5 million people were registered as a result of its reminders on Facebook during the primaries.

Those are the kinds of numbers that can change the outcome of an election.

Who do you think this will help?

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