With the 2016 presidential elections right around the corner, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that social media will be an important tool in garnering support — it already has been. And when talking about social media shaping political discourse, it's difficult to leave Twitter out of the conversation.
On Tuesday, the social media behemoth announced a new feature that allows "political donations" to be made in-site. The addition – which comes with a very obvious link to the upcoming election – aims to "enrich public discourse and increase government access and accountability."
Twitter has teamed up with Square to create a fast and effective online donation system tailored to carry out digital fundraising in real time. The process is fairly quick and intuitive to use.
Candidates soliciting donations will need to sign up for a Square Cash account, categorize their campaign under "Business," and then email firstname.lastname@example.org so the company can green-light the account. The campaign account will then get a unique URL, or $Cashtag, by which to request donations. When the URL is tweeted out, it will automatically include a picture and a "contribute" button.
For people looking to donate, the process is as simple as hitting the contribute button — at which point the site will ask you to select your donation amount, debit card and FEC requirement information. After the process is complete, you'll have the option of either returning to where you were on Twitter or retweeting your donation.
In conjunction with this new addition, Twitter has already rolled out features like country-specific notifications that remind people to register to vote, and real-time audience tailoring to help advertisers better identify and target important discussions and trends.
There is no word yet on whether the new donation feature will expand outside the U.S. — many other countries have a colorful history with social media-heavy election campaigns.