Snap Leans Into Election Coverage in Bid for Political Ads

(Bloomberg) -- Snap Inc. is leaning in on covering the US elections, tapping into its deep user base of eligible voters even as larger rival Meta Platforms Inc. downplays political content prominence on its social media sites.

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In a new partnership with between the company and the nonprofit political organization, people will be able to register to vote, sign up for election reminders and make a plan for Election Day from within the Snapchat app, the according to a statement Monday. Snap will also prominently feature politically focused content from NBC News, including on-the-ground coverage of key events from conventions to rallies and speeches.

Political campaigns still turn to traditional media channels for the bulk of their advertising and messaging. But digital platforms, especially where younger people congregate, are an increasingly essential element for any campaign. About half of US voters under 30 plan to vote this year, according to the Spring Harvard Youth Poll. More than 80 million Americans of voting age use Snapchat every month, according to the company. In 2020, the app registered 1.2 million people to vote, making it a prime platform for advertisers to reach voters.

Snap, which has been involved in political coverage and voting awareness for years, is expanding its efforts to reach even more people, while Meta has said it will stop recommending posts on politics or certain social issues, and that people will have to seek it out on their own. Meanwhile, TikTok, which has been an increasingly popular place for political posts and has a large, highly engaged audience of young people, is facing a potential ban in the US, though that’s not likely to happen before the election.

The partnership with is designed to allow Snap users to stay engaged with the political process without leaving the app. In order to help those users make more informative decisions, Snap launched in 2016 its Good Luck America news show, which offers perspective and explanation around key events from both political parties. This year the show will launch a new series called Campus Tour from colleges across the country. Also, Snap’s partnership with NBC News’ “Stay Tuned’ program will present a series that talks with Gen Z voters in local, state and federal elections about issues that resonate with them.

All of these formats and partnerships are also a way to bring in political advertising targeted at Snap’s 414 million daily active users. Ads on Snap are vetted through a “rigorous human review process,” as well as fact-checking with nonpartisan partner Poynter Institute, and a registration and certification process for potential ad buyers. The app will screen for misleading information, including those using artificial intelligence to create deceptive images.

“At such a consequential moment both for democracies around the world and the acceleration of powerful new technologies, it is as important as ever that platforms are transparent about their values,” Kip Wainscott, head of platform policy at Snap, said in a letter to more than 200 civic engagement groups and reviewed by Bloomberg News. It was written in response to questions about platform integrity during the election. “And on this point, our values could not be clearer: We reject any abuse of our platform that threatens to undermine civic processes or poses a risk to Snapchatters’ safe.”

Both political parties have already launched ads on Snapchat, including President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee. The company also plans to launch a state-specific option for political advertisers in the coming months, allowing them to focus messaging more locally.

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