Where can election information and fact-checking research be done to better educate voters?
DENTON - In June of 2020, there was a ten percent increase of young eligible voters in the United States as compared to the 40 percent in July of 2016.
Over two-billion American citizens use social media platforms, with some users spending nearly 40 percent of their day on digital applications. The dominant age group of social media users ranges from ages 18 to 29. For many people in the U.S., social media is the first and only place they go to get the latest news in pop-culture, politics, and local news.
Do young voters have a big impact on elections? Are young voters educating themselves outside of social media?
Every citizen intending to vote should do additional research and fact-check the credibility of the information to make an educated decision on what and who they are voting for. In order to make sure the information obtained is unbiased and legitimate, factual information, users should not rely solely on what they see or read on social media platforms.
Connor Applegate, UNT college student, registered to vote after turning 18, prior to the 2016 Presidential Election, and plans to vote in-person for the November 2020 election.
Registering to vote was something that was natural and he always knew he was going to do. As an American, he felt it is a great honor to have the right to vote and is his duty as a citizen.
When educating himself on candidates policies, he goes to numerous reliable sources and then forms an opinion on topics and hopes for the future of the country.
He believes social media has pros and cons overall, but finds that research and fact-checking is the most beneficial to consuming information. Applegate said he spends time researching and sifting through different biases and facts to form a well-rounded opinion in order to make an educated vote. =
"The internet doesn't always have to be evil. Your opinion is one thing, but you can't change facts.
The first place I go if I see something on social or TV, I head to Congress.gov--I mean that's as real as it's going to get, right?"
Can everything posted on Instagram, Facebook or even the media be credited as a reliable source of information?
Social media has increased in popularity since it began in the early 2000s, allowing users to connect with others instantaneously online. The rise of social media platforms began with websites, like MySpace, YouTube, and Facebook. MySpace launched in 2004 and its biggest competitor was Facebook, which launched in 2009. In 2020, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter continue to be the leading forms of social media.
Kassandra Galves, a Family Law Attorney, said her upbringing and political science played a big role in her involvement in politics and registering to vote in 2018.
"The most natural thing for me to do was vote."
Galvez spends time doing her own research and believes that everyone should research the facts.
Social media can be a fast source to see the latest news, but can not be the only form of news that people consume.
"You don't always know where the information from a Facebook article is coming from. The people doing their own research are going to get ahead."
Social media platforms allow users to access and share information, images, and connect with friends from any mobile device. Algorithms behind the platforms are constantly changing and have had an impact on the information that users see.
In uncertain times, amid the coronavirus pandemic, many had to decide how it would affect their ability or decision to vote, whether it was by mail-in ballot, in-person, or if they would vote at all.
Galvez voted early and expressed that standing in-line and turning her ballot was very satisfying and assured her that her vote matters.
Applegate plans to vote in-person at the polls on election day. "It's four hours, for four years."
Some believe that one vote will not make a difference or they do not care about politics and choose not to vote, but both Applegate and Galvez believe it is something U.S. citizens have the freedom, opportunity, and privilege of voting for the future of the nation.
Young voters play a significant role in the elections and the future of the United States of America. Although social media gives users the ability to share information and stay connected, not everything posted can be seen as a fact. It is important for voters of all ages to research information for themselves and form opinions based upon facts and not popular opinion on social media.
Registering to vote and exercising the right to vote is a privilege the American people have to participate in history. Voting is how individuals contribute to the liberties, as those have done before and those will do in the years to come. Be informed, let your voice be heard and exercise your right to vote this November.