Social Media and the Right to Vote

This paper discusses the legal implications of social media for the free exercise of the right to vote. In the last years, social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook) have been responsible for the rise and fall of several politicians. Social media platforms influence voters in numerous ways: they promote political debate, increase the electoral participation of young voters, organize voting polls, and select news articles for their users. However, the information of the public through social media is far from objective and transparent. Facebook employs obscure algorithms to shape the media exposure of users or disseminate information along certain voting lines. This paper discusses first the role of social media in enhancing democratic participation during electoral and non-electoral periods. Second, it analyzes the risk of ‘fake news’ during elections and the impact of social media on the right of voters to cast their ballot secretly, freely, and based upon an informed decision.