Mark Zuckerberg has rolled out an ambitious, important new initiative under Facebook with the mission to register 4 million voters for the upcoming Presidential election in November.
This comes right after the Facebook founder came under harsh criticism for not pushing to flag President Trump’s comments regarding the protests.
Through the new initiative, Facebook will be launching a Voting Information Center later this summer, with details on when and how to vote as well as relevant deadlines, ballot specifics and verified information from state and local election officials.
Online platforms are under increasing pressure to curb the spread of misleading or false information in the wake of the 2016 presidential campaign.
“Facebook has a responsibility not just to prevent voter suppression ,which disproportionately targets people of color, but to actively support well-informed voter engagement, registration, and turnout,” wrote Mark Zuckerberg in USA Today.
“By giving people a voice, registering and turning out voters, and preventing interference, I believe Facebook is supporting and strengthening our democracy in 2020 and beyond.”
Facebook estimates more than 160 million people will see information on its platforms, including Instagram, about how to vote in the election, said Emily Dalton Smith, director of social impact product at Facebook.
What else? Facebook will be tackling its critics directly (kind of) by allowing users to control whether they want to see political ads on the platform. This is a big step for Facebook, since it became the poster child for skewed political ads during the peak of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Facebook will also track spending for every US Senate and House race and will launch a custom tracker for any advertiser or organization running US or political issue ads in the Facebook ad library.
Facebook’s quantifiable impact on elections is significant, and its role in providing election related information should not be undermined. In fact, it is quite scary to see just how much power the social media giant has yielded.
Back in May 2016, nearly 200,000 people registered to vote on California’s Secretary of State website after Facebook prompted users to register. That, is the power of the platform.