Celebrity social media activism backfires


With Election Day less than two weeks away, some states are offering early voting.

Justin Timberlake flew to Tennessee from California to take advantage of the state’s early voting opportunity.

While inside the voting booth in Memphis, Timberlake snapped a selfie. He then uploaded it to Instagram, encouraging his followers to “get out and vote.”

What seems like a well-intentioned public service announcement may have gotten the singer in trouble with the law.

As it turns out, a new Tennessee law that prohibits citizens “from using the device for telephone conversations, recording, or taking photographs or videos while inside the polling place” took effect in January. Committing the crime is a misdemeanor, and the penalty could be up to 30 days of jail time and a $50 fine.

Timberlake was unaware that his selfie was against the law in Tennessee.

“I was like, ‘This is gonna be great, I’m gonna inspire people to vote,’” Timberlake said on NBC’s Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday.

Selfies are a big part of today’s news media, especially with the popularity of social media sites.

Many celebrities use their media spotlight and large fan followings to speak about issues that are important to them. Timberlake has nearly 40 million Instagram followers.

If he did not inspire his followers to “get out and vote,” hopefully he at least inspired them to get out and check their state laws before posting voting selfies.

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About Madison Brown

(mrb104@miami.edu) is a sophomore at the University of Miami double majoring in broadcast journalism and motion pictures. She is originally from the Pittsburgh area. She is the Social Media/Promotions coordinator for UMTV and Vice President of Delta Kappa Alpha Cinematic Arts Fraternity. She is also a member of Alpha Delta Pi. She has worked as a reporter for UMTV NewsVision, Newsbreak, and Pulse. Media and communication has always been a big part of Madison’s life, and broadcasting is her passion. She hopes to become a news reporter or work in the film industry.