BBC accused of hinting to young people not to bother voting – on eve of voting registration closing

The BBC is accused of bias - this time in the other direction than it's used to.


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Public opinion polls suggest that UK's Conservatives are headed for a victory in the country's general election, scheduled for December 12.

But regardless of that, to be able to cast their ballots come the day, voters had to register – and that deadline passed on November 26. Just ahead of it, the BBC, UK's public broadcaster, posted a series of Facebook Stories that attracted a great deal of criticism on social media.

Facebook Stories are by and large visual, and short-lived: remaining up online for 24 hours. The message that the BBC seemed to be sending was that politics is boring – and that there might be much more important things in life.

There have also been a number of tweets in the same vein from the BBC seen as promoting political apathy at a time when many others were attempting to boost voter registration numbers.

The Independent quotes actor David Paisley as taking to Twitter to describe BBC's choice as “grotesque” – adding the “#BBCimpartiality” hashtag appended to his tweet – something used by the broadcaster's liberal critics.

The accusation being made here is that the BBC is attempting to discourage voters from registering. To understand the nature of the backlash, you must take into account the conventional wisdom that suggests low voter turnouts must favor the Conservatives.

From there, it becomes clear how anyone seen as dissuading voters from registering – thus potentially from turning out at the polling stations – might have been construed as engaging in a type of implicit political bias. Using social media and meme-like imagery and language, along with the “stories” format is also seen as targeting specifically the younger population.

Again, the theory is that in the UK – newly registered users are most likely young people, those prone to voting against the Conservative's political rivals, the liberal Labour Party.

But what motive the BBC – for many years seen as hostile bastion against conservative values and more or less openly taking just about any liberal stance on any number of issues – would suddenly have to apparently aid Johnson and his party's campaign?

The Twitter outrage doesn't really provide any useful clues – especially since the Conservatives look to be projected to win comfortably – with or without any outside “help” from the likes of Facebook Stories.

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Didi Rankovic

Didi Rankovich is an experienced online journalist, editor, and translator, with a career spanning over ten years writing for major a English-language website in Serbia, and previously working as translator for international organizations and peacekeepers in the Balkans. Rankovich is passionate about free and open source tech and is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net, focusing on lead stories. [email protected]
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