Social Networking Goes Political

Democratic Party Symbol
Image by dbking via Flickr

By Ben Spielberg

October 25, 2010 marked the date where, for Facebook users around the world, everything turned unexpectedly. An application was released by the Democratic Party this week that will enable users of the popular social networking website to look through their friends voting histories and find out which of their Democratic friends are voting and which are not. After the search is completed, the user is then prompted to tell all their non-voting friends to vote this upcoming election.
I understand where the Democratic Party is coming from. Almost 50% of every American over voting age does not observe their right to do so—if everyone who doesn’t vote chose to do so, elections could have a very different outcome. Americans who are normally too disenchanted or apathetic to the election process because past results could change the future and more citizens could actually become excited about voting. So instead of looking at this application as shameful to non-voters or rather embarrassing, instead I want to look at it as an apparatus unveiling a new wave of voters alike.

Even though I am able to look at the bright side of the issue, there is still intrinsically something wrong here. People have the right to vote and the right to do so anonymously. It is completely unethical to take this human right away from us—not only is it disturbing to post private information like an individuals’ voting history on a basically public forum, but it leads to the question: What’s next? Facebook members have a choice to list their sex, relationship status, phone number, e-mail address, etc on their profile. They also have the choice to opt out of doing so. And that is what this issue really boils down to—their choice and their free will. If one decides not to vote in any election it is both their choice and their right. Amendment 15 of the US Constitution states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” It would be considered politically incorrect, to say the least, to create an application that lists the color of your online friends’ skins, or their races. It is equally immoral to list anyone who has decided not to vote in the past.

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