Talk about timing. On the same morning Rachel Notley announced Albertans will head back to the polls on April 16, Twitter Canada unveiled a special emoji for the provincial election.
The “vote” emoji automatically appears when the following hashtags are used: #ableg, #abvote, #abpoli and #ChooseYourAlberta.
The first three are popular hashtags used on the social media site when discussing Alberta politics and the election campaign. The fourth hashtag is the one Elections Alberta is encouraging people to use.
Twitter Canada said choosing the date for the Alberta election emoji to actually go live was a mix of an educated guess and a happy accident.
“As you can imagine, the engineering and creative development behind these does take some time, so it’s an educated guess by us as to when to roll it out and it just so happened that it landed on the same day as the announcement, that the writ dropped,” Twitter Canada’s Christopher Doyle said.
“There have been past elections — sometimes it’s appeared slightly before the writ has dropped. In other cases, it’s been slightly after… and it was great timing today,” Doyle said.
This is the first emoji for a provincial election in Alberta.
The first Twitter emoji ever for a provincial election in Canada was created for the 2017 B.C. election and was triggered by the #BCVotes hashtag.
There was also an #OntarioVotes emoji in 2018.
The way the Alberta election emoji was built allows older tweets with those hashtags to also display the “vote” image.
“It’s a little bit of magic on the platform engineering-wise where it retroactively… Any tweet using one of the hashtags that triggers the emoji, it will now appear,” Doyle said.
The hope is to help curate online discussion around the election and spark more debate leading up to the vote and motivate more people to cast a ballot.
“Part of it is encouraging this civic dialogue on our platform,” Doyle told Global News.
“It encourages people to vote. We know that when there’s an image attached to a hashtag, people are actually going to tweet more so hopefully it spurs even more conversation.”
Overall in 2019, Jason Kenney, leader of the United Conservative Party, has 2.1 times more Twitter mentions than NDP Leader Notley, according to Twitter Canada.
READ MORE: Alberta election fact check
Notley is the second-most followed sitting premier in Canada, after Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
Last year in June, she became only the third sitting premier in Canada to reach 100,000 Twitter followers.
Kenney has been one of the top five most-mentioned Canadian politicians on Twitter in 2016, 2017 and 2018. In 2018, he had more Twitter mentions than any sitting premier with the exception of Ontario’s Ford.