Facebook is encouraging its British users to register to vote in an attempt to improve turnout in elections in May.
On Tuesday, the Californian social networking giant is inserting a message into the news feeds of British users eligible to vote letting them know that the deadline to register is a week away, and providing a link to the UK Government voter registration portal.
The initiative is the result of a partnership with the Electoral Commission, and is not the first time Facebook has encouraged its users to vote. Back in the 2015 General Election, Facebook displayed voter registration reminders to its British users — 15 million people saw them.
There are a number of elections being held on May 5 in Britain, including some council, London mayoral, police and crime commissioner, and Welsh and Northern Irish Assembly elections.
The Electoral Commission did not pay Facebook for the initiative, a company spokesperson said.
Here’s how the notification looks on mobile, and the voter registration portal that it links to:
These messages can have a demonstrable impact. A study back in 2010 found that 340,000 extra people voted in a US Congressional election because of a message Facebook displayed informing them it was election day.
“Over 35 million people in the UK use Facebook, considerably more than the number of people who voted in the last General Election. We’re seeing that millions of them are already turning to Facebook to share their views on the forthcoming elections as well as the broader European referendum debate. However, participating in the discussion online isn’t enough to get your opinion counted If you’re not registered, you can’t vote. It’s that simple,” said Facebook politics and government specialist Theo Lomas in a statement.
“We hope through partnerships like this one with the Electoral Commission, we can make sure more people will know how to cast their ballot and have their say.”