Pictures of grotesque and heterosexy women weren’t the only images found on Instagram during the presidential election. I’ve been seeing a few of my friends post pictures of their voting ballot on the site with the hashtag #iVoted, and then I read on Mashable that this was a thing. A popular and illegal thing. According to Mashable’s Alex Fitzpatrick, “It’s totally kosher to Instagram, record video, tweet, post to Facebook or play Angry Birds while you’re waiting to vote. But once you’re inside your polling place, it may be smart to put the phone away until you’re done voting.”
Instagram started out as a site for people to take pictures of themselves with cool, funky filters (and don’t get me wrong, it’s still mostly about that), but use of the site during the election, in my opinion, showed something very out of the ordinary for Instagram users. The friends who have posted pictures of their ballot on Instagram, or of themselves with the I Voted sticker on their cheek, seemed to have been campaigning in an indirect way. Most of the people that were posting these images onto Facebook (via the Instagram app) voted for Obama, which may suggest that either Romney fans don’t Instagram as much, or they may have been uncomfortable to show who they supported on an SNS as public as Instagram. In this case, people were using the site to express their excitement for a) being eligible to vote, and b) proud to vote for their selected candidate.
According to Instagram’s blog, “People from around the United States tagged more than 100,000 photos with #IVoted, and 150,000 photos with #election2012.” What does this mean? It could be a lot of things: people want to show support for their candidate, their country, their community and their beliefs. But as it turns out, they are actually showing the biggest support for Instagram itself. By taking pictures 2x the amount of the normal upload rate, people have shown the world the most important event that is taking place at that moment. Whether or not more instagrammers voted for Obama or Romney would be an interesting case study on individual taste performances, but at the end of the day, Instagram came out as a big winner in the social media election.