The Snap election

Fully Charged

Hey everyone, it's Sarah Frier. If you use Facebook or Instagram, you can't miss the prompt at the top of the feed encouraging you to register to vote and tell your friends about it. The company has already registered 2.5 million people, well on its way to its goal of 4 million. Twitter Inc. and Snap Inc. have similar initiatives to remind users to register.

But while Facebook's effort is by far the biggest, Snap's may have the most-interesting effect on the results of November's U.S. presidential election.

Snap, with 100 million users in the U.S., reaches a particularly young demographic that is using the app more fervently while they're stuck at home. These people are more likely to be voting for the first time, and may not have otherwise worked out how to do so.

"Youth voters are asked less by campaigns to vote, because of the assumption that they will not," said Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University. "Nobody turns 18 and thinks, `Oh, time for me to register to vote.' They don't just come equipped with knowledge on exactly how to do that."

Snap's registration push, which takes on a task that high school teachers and other adult role models may neglect during the pandemic, has the potential for real election impact, she added.

Kawashima-Ginsberg's group did an analysis of youth survey data for Snap, which predicts a surge in young people voting. According to the results, 82% of Gen Zers said the Covid-19 pandemic made them realize political leaders' decisions impact people's everyday lives.

In the midterms, there were tighter races in states where youth voter participation was higher, implying that an increase in the youth vote really counts, according to the report, cheekily titled "Don't Scroll Past Gen Z." The demographic is particularly attuned to online activism via their smartphones, and is more likely to have attended a protest, for either conservative or liberal causes, than other age groups, the study also found.

As soon as Snap users turn 18, they get a prompt to register as part of an in-app birthday recognition. The company has spurred 862,000 registrations in 2020 and expects to hit 1 million soon. 

It's still unclear which party this will help. Donald Trump's posts on Snapchat have been more popular than those of Democratic challenger Joe Biden. But the company recently reduced the visibility of posts for anyone not directly following Trump because Snap Chief Executive Officer Evan Spiegel thought the president's rhetoric was inflaming racial tensions. And young voters, the kind most likely to use Snap, tend to skew liberal

Snap's efforts are likely to provide a bit of a counterbalance to Facebook, which reaches an older demographic. "The community we serve tends to be, on average, ideologically a little bit more conservative than our employee base," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, according to audio of an internal meeting this year obtained by the Verge. He added: "Maybe 'a little' is an understatement." Sarah Frier

If you read one thing

Magic Leap was supposed to "revolutionize the way people communicate, purchase, learn, share and play," in the words of Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai. Instead, it created a $2,300 augmented reality headset that bombed and evaporated billions of investors' dollars. Joshua Brustein and Ian King chronicled the startup's rise and fall for Bloomberg Businessweek

And here's what you need to know in global technology news

The Justice Department is aiming to limit Section 230, which prevents tech platforms from being held liable for content. 

TikTok is pushing back on Trump in court, filing for a temporary block on the president's proposed ban of the app. 

Shares of telemedicine site and discount marketplace GoodRx rose more than 50% in its trading debut Wednesday

Tesla's "Battery Day" disappointed investors

More tech journalists are leaving newsrooms for newsletters.

Nevermind: On Tuesday, it appeared that Amazon was getting into the exercise bike business with a new "Prime Bike," news that sent shares of Peloton tumbling. However, Amazon says the bike was unrelated to the e-commerce giant and that it's working with its creator to "stop the sale of the product, and change the product branding."


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