What do Facebook, Twitter and Apple all have to do with the presidential election? Quite a lot actually, according to some recent changes in how these companies will affect voter turnout leading up to Nov. 3.
Facebook has announced that they will pay select users as much as $120 to deactivate their accounts in the months leading up the election as part of survey.
According to an article from USA Today, the tactic is being used to “better understand the impact of Facebook and Instagram on key political attitudes and behaviors during the 2020 elections.”
The social media site estimates between 200,000 and 400,000 participants will opt to be part of the experience in the months leading up to the election completing surveys in the process.
Facebook has also stated that employees will be paid if they choose to volunteer at polling places on Election Day.
Alongside them, Twitter also announced that their US employees will receive a full paid day off on Nov. 3, which is an increase from past election years of two hours off.
Apple employees will also receive up to four hours of paid time off to vote or to volunteer at the polls according to an internal memo from Senior VP of Retail Deirdre O’Brien.
The move by these companies to encourage their employees to volunteer at the polls comes amid the growing concerns that there will be a low number of volunteers due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
An article from Forbes states, “Supporters say giving employees paid time off to vote will boost voter turnout, especially for low-wage workers who normally couldn’t afford to take the day off.”
So, do these major companies have a responsibility to preserve our democracy leading up to Election Day?
The bottom line is yes.
The stakes they hold in encouraging voter turnout will also directly impact not only the way these companies drive their metrics but also how they will directly affect the consumer.
A big debate that still lingers long after the 2016 election is whether or not the vast amounts of misinformation and political polarization which exists on social media sites does play a role in US elections.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has continuously received lots of backlash from the public for the influence by foreign governments on Facebook and for not banning political ads like other social media sites such as Twitter.
Whether or not this experience is a PR stunt, these major companies are proving how proactive they can be.
“We need to better understand whether social media makes us more polarized as a society, or if it largely reflects the divisions that already exist; if it helps people to become better informed about politics, or less,” states the Facebook page for the survey announcement.
Needless to say, the responsibility these companies have to encourage active participation in the 2020 election goes far beyond their company metrics, but also to offer avenues where their employees and consumers can use their voice.