UK General Election 2017

Politics, youth and a tech-driven election

Susie James

09 Jun 2017

The day many have been waiting for (since it was announced eight weeks ago) is finally here. Yes, the General Election results have arrived, and in their wake is a whole host of technology-based campaigning. This snap election has been largely focused on youth turnout, something which I (as a former politics student) wholeheartedly see as one of the most important aspects of an election. The Labour party have focused their advertising on Snapchat and Instagram, as well as a barrage (not Farage) of famous faces throwing their weight behind party leader Jeremy Corbyn on social media. One brand, however, has taken a different approach. Amazon’s latest update for its smart home device, the Amazon Echo, has allowed users to ask questions such as “Alexa, what’s the polling like?” and “Alexa, what’s the latest with Theresa May?” (No update as of yet as to whether we can find out if she’s running through fields of wheat). Amazon has taken its information from the same place it gathers updates for its daily “Flash Briefings”, and with Echo devices being found in more and more homes across the UK, this update has been a key influence in people’s interest in the election. The power of social media means we are constantly updated on what’s happening in the world, whether it’s true or not, and this makes finding information that is both up-to-date and accurate increasingly difficult. With #FakeNews on the rise, inaccuracies are being shared more rapidly than ever. Having a convenient source of factually correct news in people’s homes is more vital than it’s ever been. I’ve always been slow to applaud Amazon, but it’s tapped into something clever here.  I think this is the first in a long line of politically motivated tech innovation to come. Encouraging people to take an interest in the government and politics is vital for the next generation, and technology has the power to do this. In a generation so dependent on tech, it is the responsibility of brands such as Amazon, Apple and Google to encourage participation in events that shape the future.