Following on an announcement from June, Facebook has launched a Voting Information Center on Facebook and Instagram as a “one-stop-shop to give people in the US the tools and information they need to make their voices heard at the ballot box.”
The company has a rough past with U.S. elections, with the 2016 presidential election leaving a big black ‘mark’ at the company’s reputation. To prevent the incident from happening again, Facebook has been trying to update its platform to provide information to Americans about voting. This new Voting information Center is just a part of that campaign, and even though the company says that its only goal is to “help every eligible voter in the US who uses our platform vote this year,” it is clearly more than that.
The information hub will connect everyone on Facebook and Instagram to accurate and easy-to-find information about voting wherever they live. This means that the company will send out notifications to people based on their location and age, displaying relevant information about voting in their state. This move comes at a time when COVID 19 has altered the voting process, and has left many people clueless about how they should vote.
Available right from the main menu, the Information Center can be accessed from both Facebook and Instagram. Here, users can check if they are registered to vote – and if they’re not, easily register through a link that takes them directly to their state website or “our nonpartisan partner,” Facebook said. Moreover, they can check if their state has expanded vote-by-mail options (not sure how Trump would feel about that) and request absentee or mail-in ballots from their state if it’s available. Moreover, the platforms will also alert users about a deadline, in case there is one.
The company added that the information it provides on the center comes from state election officials and other nonpartisan civic organizations. However, to further ensure that the information it sends out is accurate, the company is launching a new feature on Facebook called “Voting Alerts.” This will let state and local election authorities reach their constituents with important updates about voting, thus eliminating any middle man. “Only pages from a government authority, not the personal page of an individual election official, are eligible to participate in this feature,” Facebook said.
The company is also launching a Facts About Voting section that will contain articles about voting, and equip readers to spot misinformation, not just on Facebook but anywhere on the internet.
Facebook is also expanding the ‘labels’ it launched last year, that were added to posts from federal politicians discussing voting, and provides relevant information about the topic in the post. Now, this label will come attached with posts about voting in U.S., both on Facebook and Instagram. “In addition, people will now be able to access the information center directly from ads about social issues, elections or politics by clicking on the “i” or the “Paid for by” disclaimer,” Facebook added.
Moreover, Facebook will now allow poll workers to volunteer directly through the Voting Information Center. The company is even going as far as to provide free ad credits to “state election authorities in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia to help them recruit poll workers.”
Facebook has been jumping through hoops to avoid a repeat of the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, and maybe earn some brownie points to help evade scrutiny from the Congress.