Facebook has launched what Mark Zuckerberg calls the “largest voting campaign in American history,” with the goal of urging and helping 4 million people register for the upcoming election. The social network’s voter registration campaign back in 2016 was a huge success, so now it’s aiming for double the number of people it helped register in 2018 and 2016. To make that happen, Facebook is building a Voting Information Center, which will include authoritative information on how to register and vote, as well as how to request for an absentee or mail-in ballot, based on a user’s state laws.
The information hub can notify users about announcements and changes to the election process, if there are any, from local authorities. It can also alert them about pertinent information, such as registration periods, deadlines to request a vote-by-mail ballot and the start of early voting. To help voters prepare for Election Day itself, the center can also show them when and where they’re supposed to vote and whether there are ID requirements for their location.
The social network will put a link to the Voting Information Center at the top of people’s Facebook and Instagram feeds starting this summer, giving it prime location in hopes that most of its 160 million users in the US will see it. In an op-ed for USA Today, Zuckerberg explained that more than half of the people Facebook surveyed in the US said they need more information on how to vote in November than in previous elections. He wrote:
“[W]e're encouraging people to vote. Voting is voice. It’s the single most powerful expression of democracy, the best way to hold our leaders accountable and how we address many of the issues our country is grappling with. I believe Facebook has a responsibility not just to prevent voter suppression — which disproportionately targets people of color — but also to actively support well-informed voter engagement, registration and turnout.”
In addition to announcing its new voter campaign, Facebook has also rolled out the ability to opt out of seeing political ads. Starting today, users will be able to switch off ads that have the “Paid for by” political disclaimer on them. They can do so from within an ad itself — they simply need to click on the “Paid for” information link and then choose the “See fewer ads” like it option — or from within their Ad Settings page. And, yes, they can opt out of seeing political ads on both Facebook and Instagram.