With the US Presidential Election now less than 50 days away, Twitter has launched a new 'Election Hub' within the Explore section of the app, in order to keep voters informed of key updates with accurate, official information.
We're launching a US election hub to make it easier to find accurate information and resources about the 2020 election.— TwitterGov (@TwitterGov) September 15, 2020
Starting today, if you're in the US, you'll see the hub at the top of your Explore tab. ???? pic.twitter.com/OhzKOTPPj5
As explained by Twitter:
"Twitter wants to empower every eligible person to vote in the 2020 US election, and we’re focused on helping people register, better understand the voting process during COVID-19 including early voting options, and feel informed about the choices on their ballot. While nine in ten daily Twitter users say they plan to vote in the upcoming US elections, over half say they still need more information about the candidates on their ballot and how to vote in 2020."
As you can see in the above GIF, the Election Hub is now accessible to US users from the top of the Explore tab. Tapping through will provide a listing of key election news and updates, vetted by Twitter's editorial team, while it will also feature live streams of major election events as they happen, including candidate debates.
In addition to essential updates, the hub will also include a listing of all the official candidates for the US House, US Senate, and governor, while the information presented will also be localized by state. The updates, where possible, will also be presented in English and Spanish to maximize utility.
"And in a first for Twitter, the hub will also include a series of voter education public service announcements (PSAs) created using information from nonpartisan government and voting advocacy organizations. The PSAs will run on Twitter all the way to election day, providing factual information on topics like voter registration, how to request an absentee ballot, and tips on staying healthy while voting during the pandemic."
There are major concerns about the accuracy of information being shared around the voting process in 2020, with the expectation that some will look to suppress the vote by disseminating false reports about COVID-19 limitations and changes in order to stop people heading to the polls. US President Donald Trump has also repeatedly expressed his concerns about required changes to the voting process, and how such could be manipulated - which has then sparked further discussion about electoral interference and what to expect.
Through it's Election Hub, Twitter's hoping to keep its users informed on essential voting information, which is similar to Facebook's Voting Information Center, which it announced back in June.
In addition to this, Twitter has also added a new series of 'hashflags' on voting hashtags to further encourage civic participation.
How effective such pushes will be is impossible to say - but what is clear, after the 2016 US Election, is that social media now plays a key role in information distribution, and influencing how people subsequently vote.
Political parties now know this, and the platforms are also acutely aware of their responsibility to ensure accurate, timely information is made available within their apps.
As such, this is a good initiative from Twitter, though it should arguably be placed at the top of the main feed in order to maximize effectiveness (as it is on Facebook and Instagram).