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February 26, 2024
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Condescending voter drives

Instagram+Logo+2020.

Instagram Logo 2020.

Instagram. Facebook. Snapchat. What do all these social media platforms have in common? These three social media platforms, as well as many other websites, have decided to push people to vote this November. But where did this sudden attention to voting come from? Well, I believe this voter pushing comes at a time where social media giants are under harsh scrutiny from both the government and average citizens. By engaging in these voter drives, social media platforms are not only condescending to us, but proving to the world that they don’t truly care about democracy but rather care about good PR. 

Facebook is one social media platform that has engaged in getting out the vote drives. Facebook has experienced heavy scrutiny throughout the past five years. Facebook, for example, has publicly tried to consolidate other social media websites by buying competitors. They did this with Instagram and attempted to purchase Snapchat. Mark Zuckerberg and other high-level Facebook officials have appeared before the United States Congress as a result of accusations that Facebook is mishandling user data. By pushing people to vote in the United States, Facebook is attempting to present itself as a positive force in American political and social discourse. 

So, what is the issue with these social media voter drives? Put it plainly, these voter drives are condescending and do little to improve the general political discourse in the United States. Both social media platforms reported that they helped people register to vote. According to The Hill, “Facebook announced Monday that 2.5 million U.S. users have registered to vote in the upcoming general election through Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.” (1) Bloomberg also reported Snapchat’s report: “The company has spurred 862,000 registrations in 2020 and expects to hit 1 million soon.” (2) While this number is impressive, it comes from Facebook’s relentless push to get people to register to vote. This method, while effective, is extremely condescending because it assumes that people don’t understand how to register to vote unless their social media platforms remind them. 

The United States democracy is founded on the principle that an informed voter is a useful voter. However, in the case of these social media platforms pushing for voter registration, it comes off as condescending and patronizing. The fact of the matter is that people who want to vote would have already registered and spamming people with reminders to register to vote comes off as plastic and disingenuous. Social media platforms should not take it upon themselves to encourage voters, because this job should be reserved for individuals to make an informed decision themselves. It is fine and acceptable to remind people once or twice, but to continuously remind individuals makes us seem like uneducated children who need Mark Zuckerberg to remind us to vote. 

The United States is at a crossroads but the presidency is not the only political office that is up for grabs this election cycle. Republicans will look to maintain control of the Senate, while the Democrats will hope to strengthen their ranks in the House of Representatives and push to gain seats in the Senate. More than ever, we should be voting; however, for many people, including myself, neither presidential candidate appeals to me. People who can relate to me should research their own local elections to see if maybe there is an issue or candidate you can support. Don’t allow social media, friends or peers to pressure you into voting for a particular candidate. Unlike what most people might claim, a vote for the Libertarian candidate, Green-Party candidate, or Independent candidate, such as Kanye, is not “a vote for Trump.” Voting third party or not voting at all is a choice. It means you are sick of the status quo of the duopoly of the United States and refuse to take part in the practice of voting if you can’t find a candidate that represents your interests. At the end of the day, we don’t need Facebook or our peers telling how or if we should even vote. That choice is a personal one, and while you can look to external sources for advice, your main decision to vote, and who you’re voting for, is a personal choice and should be kept that way. 

  1. https://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/517410-25-million-us-users-register-to-vote-using-facebook-instagram-messenger

  2. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/newsletters/2020-09-24/social-media-companies-are-getting-out-the-vote-who-are-they-reaching