If like me you live in the UK, you might have seen a message on your Facebook News Feed really bright and early this morning. If you didn’t see it on your mobile News Feed, it probably popped up on your desktop at some point during the day. Yes, Facebook is again reminding people to register to vote.
We knew this might be coming a while back, but today it surprised me. A message looking like the one below (desktop on the left, mobile on the right), awaited me this morning, encouraging me (as someone living in the UK) to register to vote for the elections this May. The message is meant to notify people that the registration deadline is only a week way. If you click on it, the link takes you directly to the UK Government’s registration website (as seen in the screenshots as well). Users could also share it.
Of course this is not the first time Facebook users in the UK have seen this. Before the 2015 General Election, Facebook showed similar reminders that could have increased registrations at that time. In the case of the US Congressional election back in 2010, a study found that over 340,000 more people voted as a result of the messages. Here in the UK, over 15m users had seen the messages in 2015.
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In a statement, politics and government specialist at Facebook, Theo Lomas, explained the idea behind the messages
Over 35 million people in the UK use Facebook, considerably more than the number of people who voted in the last General Election. We’re seeing that millions of them are already turning to Facebook to share their views on the forthcoming elections as well as the broader European referendum debate. However, participating in the discussion online isn’t enough to get your opinion counted If you’re not registered, you can’t vote. It’s that simple,