Facebook On a Mission to Make Sure You Vote

Facebook is launching its own little get-out-the-vote campaign.


If you’ve had enough of Campaign 2010, we suggest you not log in to Facebook on Tuesday. In addition to the slew of political ads we already told you to expect on Election Day, Facebook is launching its own little get-out-the-vote campaign. In case you happen to forget that November 2 is Election Day, the social network is posting a message to that effect at the top of News Feeds belong to U.S. members aged 18 and over. They’ll also include a link to their Facebook Polling Place Locator—which is simply the Google Election gadget embedded into Facebook’s U.S. Politics page—where people can find out where their local polling station is.

If that isn’t enough to get you moving, Facebook is letting users click an “I Voted” button, which will post an “I Voted” message to their News Feeds. And in adherence to its philosophy (probably correct) that people are more likely to get involved in something if their friends are also on board, Facebook will display pictures of your friends who’ve already clicked that button. (So if you haven’t already been annoyed by friends using the Organizing for America “Commit to Vote” app, which posts a message to your wall asking you to pledge to vote on November 2, you’ll get your chance to see it all front and center on Election Day.)

A real-time counter will also keep track of the number of Facebook users who click the “I Voted” button. More than 5.4 million did in 2008. It’ll be interesting to see how far Facebook has come on this score. Sure, 2008 was a presidential election, and fewer people tend to vote in the mid-terms — but Facebook also has millions more users than it did two years ago.

“Facebook is committed to encouraging people who use our service to participate in the democratic process,” Facebook’s manager of public policy communications Andrew Noyes wrote in an email. “As a result, Facebook is focused on ensuring that all of our users know where they can participate in this year’s elections.”

We don’t know if there will be any way to measure the impact of Facebook’s get-out-the-vote efforts. GOTV campaigns are predicated, of course, on the belief that a little nudging does get some people the polls who otherwise would stay home. Is digital nudging as effective as doing it in person? We’ll know soon enough.

About the author

E.B. Boyd (@ebboyd) has holed up in conference rooms with pioneers in Silicon Valley and hunkered down in bunkers with soldiers in Afghanistan.