Why TikTok and Snapchat are Prioritizing In-App Voter Awareness
In the midst of an abnormal election year, TikTok and Snapcht are stepping up when on-the-ground voter engagement can no longer be counted on.
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During the 2018 midterm elections, Snapchat registered more than 450,000 voters through its app. Of that group, 50 percent of those went on to cast ballots. Fast forward to today, the platform is announcing a slew of new tools and features to help prepare young people to vote in November.
For context, of its 100 million U.S. users, 80 percent are 18 or older and between 300,000 and 500,000 Snapchat users turn 18 every month. In addition, the company recently obtained data from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (“CIRCLE”), which showed that two-thirds of voters age 18 to 21 with some college experience received important resources and information about voter registration from their universities.
Driving in-app voter awareness
Despite being interested in participating in elections and exercising the right to do so, college-aged voters are unsure where to find the facts around the process. This is especially an issue in the context of the global pandemic as campuses are forced to operate remotely or limit the number of students on campus.
Here a peek into some of the updates and how they work:
- Voter Registration: As part of its new series of mini apps announced this Summer during its Partner Summit, Snapchat is introducing a new ‘Voter Registration Mini’ which will enable users to register to vote directly in the app.
- Voter Guide: Snapchat’s also launching a ‘Voter Guide’ which will provide users with key voting information and resources from official partner organizations covering topics including ballot education, voting by mail, and more.
- Before You Vote: In partnership with BallotReady, this mini app will provide users with more insight into their voting options ahead of the poll as they finalize their plans
- Voter Checklist: Also utilized in the 2018 midterms, Snapchat is bringing back the voter checklist, an interactive platform aimed to ensure users are registered and ready for the vote.
Detecting and removing misinformation
Yet another platform with a firm hold on younger demographics, TikTok, is also manifesting its plans ahead of this Fall. It’s focus? Combating misinformation.
“Misinformation, disinformation, and threats to civic engagement are challenges no platform can ignore. By working together as an industry with experts and civil society organizations, we can better protect the civic processes that are so essential to our users,” the platform explained.
At a high level, TikTok is introducing stricter, more specific guidelines around deepfakes and coordinated use of the platform to influence opinion. It’s also expanding its relationships with PolitiFact and Lead Stories to double down on fact-checking and adding an option for users to easily report content or accounts for review that they feel may be sources of misinformation. In the vein of detection processes, TikTok is gathering insights and key information from the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Foreign Influence Task Force.
As far as political ads are concerned, TikTok is using this opportunity to make it clear they don’t see them as a fit for the general experience they aim to create for its users. “The nature of paid political ads isn’t something we think fits with the experience our users expect on TikTok.”
According to a new survey from GlobalWebIndex, over half (52%) of 18-24-year-old Snapchatters will be voting for the first time this November. With their specific reach into Gen Z and Millenials, it’s apparent why these resources by the part of TikTok and Snapchat are needed.
In the midst of an abnormal election year, on-the-ground voter engagement can no longer be counted on. These first-time voters would typically be preparing to register on-campus at college after equipping themselves with key information but these options are either limited or off the table. It’s on platforms like TikTok and Snapchat to step in and fill this education void.
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