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  • Writer's pictureLaura Berni

Gen Z's First Election and Instagram’s Mental Health Concerns

Hello and welcome back to our weekly updates on what is going on in the magic world of the internet. As you might have noticed, these last weeks have all been related to politics. So last week I told myself: Laura you gotta stop it. I promised myself that this blog would not cover any political agenda, that I would go back to simple Social Media news.

But I lied.

I just don't seem to be able to talk about anything else! I can’t control myself and you are all very welcome to leave an angry feedback saying “yes, we got it, you are politically active, now give us the techy stuff we all came here for”.

This time at least we leave behind the endless debate around Facebook and Twitter.

Not many of you might know that the upcoming UK general election will be the first opportunity to vote for Generation Z. This crucial general election could determine the future of Brexit, the NHS, climate action and many other major issues. In a Voxburner survey earlier this year, over 70% of 16-24s said they expected Brexit to negatively impact their quality of life, finances, career opportunities and housing. Just to give you guys a reality check, the consequences of all our actions are very concrete. As a foreigner myself, I will have to apply for a pre-settled status and prove that I have the right of living in the UK. I also will have to get into my masters program in the upcoming year because funding for European students has only been confirmed up until December 2020. This vote will have a huge impact on the future of Gen Z and Millennials like myself (I am actually a bit in the middle of the two generations but consider myself as a Millennial).

The concern about young voters is often the vote turnout. However, the youth vote is expected to be out in force on 12th December. Almost a third of the 300,000 people who registered to vote in the days after the election was announced were under 25. 2019 has demonstrated that Gen Z are passionate about current issues and ready to take action to protect their futures, from taking part in the Global Climate Strike to joining the millions petitioning for the government to revoke Article 50.

It is time for everyone to see that us young people don’t see politics as boring or irrelevant. Voting impacts our lives and our sense of community, and as I mentioned many times, Social Media plays a key part in every elections these days.

Parties that demonstrate an understanding of social platforms by creating engaging content that neither patronises nor confuses young voters will earn their respect. They can also use social listening to understand the issues that are most important to this demographic and what will influence their vote. In my experience, digital natives are far less likely to believe in fake news, as they usually already follow the accounts that reflect their political views. Reminders to vote have been sent across all Social Medias in the past weeks, and I have to say, for once, that the channels are being used for a good cause.

So do not forget to register to vote!

On a completely different note, Instagram will be starting to hide likes in the U.S. starting next week. Instagram's hidden like counts test is currently live for users in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Brazil, Japan and New Zealand.

The data coming from these initial tests would appear to suggest that, overall, removing total Like counts is likely to also reduce total Likes allocated overall, at least to influential users. The decision behind the removal of like is making Instagram a more friendly space and improve the mental health of its users.

As per Mosseri:

"It's about young people - the idea is to try and depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition, give people more space to focus on connecting with people that they love, things that inspire them. But it's really focused on young people."

The fact that Instagram is expanding the test to American users would suggest that it is generating results, but no one is sure about what type of results. Only time will tell if this was a winning move by the app. I, personally, am quite skeptical about the benefits of this change, but I am interested to see what results it will bring and how it will affect the platform in general.

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