How Some Social Media Posts Tricked People Into Visiting Voter Registration Sites

Liana DeMasi - Author

Oct. 18 2018, Updated 8:41 a.m. ET

The 2018 midterm elections are less than a month away, and according to Vice, the lowest projected demographic in terms of voter turnout is for those who are the most dominant social media users: those aged 18 to 29. And so it seems flatly unironic that politicos and the marketers that push their messaging would seek to capture the attention of this tech savvy but politically disengaged demographic.

Our current cultural era is one where social media, television, radio broadcasts, and podcasts switch from President Trump’s last political move to Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson’s breakup in the span of a few seconds. In fact, the two realms — entertainment and politics — often have a blurry line of demarcation.

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Donald Trump went from a business mogul — and reality television host — to holding office as the President of the United States, and Kanye West holds his own power in being able to have a meeting in the Oval Office with him. In the United States, a source like E! News is no longer the only forum where viewers can gain knowledge about the entertainment world, and social media is only heightening the weighted importance of entertainment-heavy topics, making it difficult for the age group that spends the most time on social media to elevate their likelihood of voting.

It has become evident that this age group is likely getting much of their knowledge about political happenings from sources like Twitter or Instagram, with solid political reportage being harder to find when user’s feeds are plastered with the latest pregnancy news, break-up rumors, or controversial celebrity sightings. In light of this reality, Ashlee Marie Preston took to Twitter last week after the consistent buzz surrounding Kanye West’s meeting with President Trump — baiting Twitter users to click a link that appeared to be Kanye-related.

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Her tweet caused millions of users to go to instead of where they thought they were about to be directed — a true swerve.

Vice also noted that Preston’s tweet “inspired Twitter user Tim Cigelske” to do something similar, only with the recent break up of Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande.

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Cigelske’s tweet also caused millions of viewers to click through to voter registration platforms, and “while there’s no way to know how many people who clicked on the link actually registered to vote, even a small percentage of the click throughs would be a substantial number.”

This is not the first sign of social media aiding in voter-awareness and registration this election season. A few weeks ago, according to CNBC, Taylor Swift took to Instagram in her first politically-geared post. Swift’s post encouraged people to vote and caused “nearly 65,000 Americans ages 18 to 29” to register.


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