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UK turns to Snapchat to boost young voter turnout

The Electoral Commission has partnered with Snapchat to launch a UK-wide geofilter encouraging selfie-swappers to register to vote in the upcoming general election. It’s live in the app right now and asks users to “Find your voice!” ahead of the May 22nd registration deadline and actual vote on June 8th. This nationwide geofilter follows a more localised campaign in Scotland last month, which was intended to get youngsters hyped for council elections — 16 and 17 years old particularly, given it was the first vote they were eligible to participate in.

Facebook and Twitter have become increasingly important political forums. Users share news and debate amongst themselves, and both platforms foster direct communication between politicians, parties and voters. Snapchat is a slightly different beast, but with 10 million daily users in the UK, it makes sense that the Electoral Commission would want to connect with young people on their terms. Some have dismissed the geofilter as gimmicky, but it’s not like there’s any great harm in trying to whip up a few more registrations — especially when no money changed hands to make it happen, according to an Electoral Commission spokesperson talking to Business Insider.

Snapchat geofilters were particularly popular with politicians and organisations in the run-up to last year’s US Presidential election. The Trump campaign even went to the trouble of launching a country-wide geofilter attacking “Crooked Hillary” on a day the two candidates were due to debate.

Via: Business Insider

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UK drone rules will require you to take safety tests

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US officials might be easing up on drone regulations, but their UK counterparts are pushing forward. The British government has instituted rules that require you to not only register any robotic aircraft weighing over 250g (0.55lbs), but to take a "safety awareness" test to prove you understand the drone code. Regulators hope that this will lead to fewer drones flying over airports and otherwise causing havoc in British skies. Not that they're taking any chances -- the UK is also planning wider use of geofencing to prevent drones from flying into dangerous airspace.

The new rules come following a study highlighting the dangers of wayward drones. A smaller drone isn't necessarily safer than its larger alternatives, for example -- many of those more compact models have exposed rotors that can do a lot of damage. A drone weighing around 400 g (0.88lbs) can crack the windscreen of a helicopter, while all but the heaviest drones will have trouble cracking the windscreen of an airliner (and then only at speeds you'd expect beyond the airport). While you might not cause as much chaos as some have feared, you could still create a disaster using a compact drone.

It's nothing new to register drones, of course, and it doesn't appear to have dampened enthusiasm in the US. The test adds a wrinkle, though: how willing are you to buy a drone if you know you'll have to take a quiz? The test likely won't slow sales too much, if at all, but it could give people one more reason to pause before buying a drone on impulse. Manufacturers appear to be in favor of the new rulebook, at any rate -- DJI tells the BBC that the UK is striving for a "reasonable" solution that balances safety with a recognition of the advantages that drones can bring to public life.

Source: Gov.uk (1), (2)