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Snapchat Provides New Voter Registration and Awareness Tools Ahead of US Midterms

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Snapchat Provides New Voter Registration and Awareness Tools Ahead of US Midterms

With the US midterms fast approaching, Snapchat has today detailed some new steps that it’s taking to encourage its users to vote, or register to vote, in preparation for upcoming polls.

Snapchat has proven itself to be a key connector on this front, with the app’s reach to young audiences helping to raise awareness around civic participation, and improve political engagement among younger groups.

Snap’s latest efforts will seek to encourage more youngsters to register to share their voice, while it’s also launching a new ‘Voting 101 hub’ in the app, which will provide instructional videos on how to participate.

First off, on registration – in partnership with BallotReady, Snap’s launched a new in-app tool that will help guide users through the voter registration process.

As you can see here, another key element of this new tool is sharing your registration status, and inviting others to also register the app.

Snap has seen significant success in the past with its ‘I voted’ type stickers, enabling users to advocate and share their experiences in the app. That type of organic engagement activity can play a big role in influencing behavior, and Snap’s looking to lean into this where it can to enhance take-up and interest.

The new ‘Voting 101’ hub, meanwhile, will include a range of instructional videos on all aspects of the voting process.

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As explained by Snap:

“We’ve developed these tools in partnership with Nonprofit Vote, Vote Early Day, Power the Polls, BallotReady, Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights Under the Law, and VoteRiders. As always, we will leverage Augmented Reality to enhance the real world around us. Snapchatters will be encouraged to register and get out the vote through fun Lenses and Filters – and more importantly, encourage friends to do the same.”

In the lead-up to the midterms, Snap’s team of content curators will also feature local Map stories that highlight voter engagement content as another incentive to encourage participation.

And again, all of these measures can have a big impact.

Snapchat says that its various in-app prompts helped over 30 million people access voting information in 2020, while it also inspired four million users to learn more about their opportunities to actually run for office themselves in 2021.

Also significant:

“Research by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement’s (CIRCLE) found that during that election cycle, Snapchat’s tools especially helped register Black youth, as well as young Americans that are unlikely to have gone to college – groups that tend to be under-invested in by campaigns and organizations, and underrepresented in the electorate.” 

This is an important consideration, and Snapchat remains a key connector for younger audience groups – and as such, it’s important that Snap continues to provide education resources and guides like this to help users learn more about civic participation, and how they can have their say in the political process.

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UK teen died after ‘negative effects of online content’: coroner

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Molly Russell was exposed to online material 'that may have influenced her in a negative way'

Molly Russell was exposed to online material ‘that may have influenced her in a negative way’ – Copyright POOL/AFP/File Philip FONG

A 14-year-old British girl died from an act of self harm while suffering from the “negative effects of online content”, a coroner said Friday in a case that shone a spotlight on social media companies.

Molly Russell was “exposed to material that may have influenced her in a negative way and, in addition, what had started as a depression had become a more serious depressive illness,” Andrew Walker ruled at North London Coroner’s Court.

The teenager “died from an act of self-harm while suffering depression”, he said, but added it would not be “safe” to conclude it was suicide.

Some of the content she viewed was “particularly graphic” and “normalised her condition,” said Walker.

Russell, from Harrow in northwest London, died in November 2017, leading her family to set up a campaign highlighting the dangers of social media.

“There are too many others similarly affected right now,” her father Ian Russell said after the ruling.

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“At this point, I just want to say however dark it seems, there is always hope.

“I hope that this will be an important step in bringing about much needed change,” he added.

The week-long hearing became heated when the family’s lawyer, Oliver Sanders, took an Instagram executive to task.

A visibly angry Sanders asked Elizabeth Lagone, the head of health and wellbeing at Meta, Instagram’s parent company, why the platform allowed children to use it when it was “allowing people to put potentially harmful content on it”.

“You are not a parent, you are just a business in America. You have no right to do that. The children who are opening these accounts don’t have the capacity to consent to this,” he said.

Lagone apologised after being shown footage, viewed by Russell, that “violated our policies”.

Of the 16,300 posts Russell saved, shared or liked on Instagram in the six-month period before her death, 2,100 related to depression, self-harm or suicide, the inquest heard.

Children’s charity NSPCC said the ruling “must be a turning point”.

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“Tech companies must be held accountable when they don’t make children’s safety a priority,” tweeted the charity.

“This must be a turning point,” it added, stressing that any delay to a government bill dealing with online safety “would be inconceivable to parents”.

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