North American Facebook users on Friday were greeted with the company’s Fourth of July voter-registration drive that’s part of a push to sign up more than 4 million people to voter rolls between now and the Nov. 3 general election.
Facebook claims, according to its own research, the registration push is the largest in U.S. history and will reach more than 160 million people.
In Colorado, that meant a star-spangled post at the top of the feed of everyone on the platform who’s old enough to vote. It reads: “Get ready to vote in any upcoming elections” and includes a counter stating, “People around the world who have shared that they’re registered to vote.”
It then allows users to select a state and, in Colorado at least, offers a “register” button that takes users to the Colorado Secretary of State’s website.
The Fourth of July push follows a broader announcement on voter registration by the social media giant on June 17. At that time, Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg launched the company’s Voting Information Center that’s heavy on info from state election officials.
“Facebook exists to give people a voice, and voting is one of the most powerful ways to make your voice heard,” Zuckerberg posted at the time. “I hope that we can help every eligible voter in the U.S. who uses our platform to vote this year.”
Under fire for its role in allowing misinformation by Russians and other anti-democracy actors during the 2016 election, Facebook is pledging to “help protect the 2020 elections by connecting more than 160 million people with reliable information about the election, fighting interference, stopping misinformation, and increasing transparency in political ads.”
Facebook has been embroiled in an ongoing debate on misinformation from politicians, including President Donald Trump’s false claims that mail-in voting is rife with fraud. Twitter flagged those posts as false, while Facebook declined to intervene.
Colorado on Tuesday pulled off an all-mail-in (or drop box) primary that went off without a hitch – just like the midterm elections.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden has been pushing for Facebook to do more to root out misinformation from candidates like Trump.
Facebook Director of Policy Communications Robert Traynham, in a phone interview on July 1, told RockyMountainPost.com that’s why it’s so important for the company to link users to reliable local and state election officials for the best possible information, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“There will be guidance on registration and who’s eligible to vote, information on how to request an absentee ballot if you want to vote by mail, guidance for military and overseas voters, and dates and polling places for early voting,” Traynham said. “I want to really steer this more around your state and local officials as opposed to some of the national folks out there, because every state is different. And so that’s why we’re tailoring this to each specific state.”
Asked if this campaign will help offset some of the negative publicity around Facebook’s role in past elections and abuses of the platform by political campaigns, Traynham said, “This was the right thing to do because we do believe that voice is all about elections, and vice versa, and holding elected officials accountable.”