General Election 2019: Beyonce and Jay-Z used as 'hoax' to get people to register to vote

Jay-Z, Beyonce and Marvyn Harrison Image copyright Getty Images/Marvyn Harrison

"I'm very sorry for using your marriage as a hoax for the British public. But thank you."

That's Marvyn Harrison's light-hearted message to Beyonce and Jay-Z after he made out they had "consciously uncoupled" in an attempt to get more people to sign up to vote.

Marvyn tweeted the fake news - but linked to the voter registration website instead.

He tells Newsbeat that all the responses have been pretty positive.

"This is just for the goodwill of people having their voice," he says.

Marvyn, who is the host of the podcast Dope Black Dads, says it started in a Whatsapp group where they were discussing the election.

"I was just getting a bit bored of the apathy," he says.

"So I made it to post in my own group, basically, as a decoy to get them to register.

"And then they all laughed at it. So I posted it on Twitter - and then it kind of built a life of itself."

Marvyn does understand some of the disengagement from politics, saying: "To be completely honest, I'm starting to fall a little bit out of love with all the back and forth."

But his solution is to use this as an opportunity to have your say.

"When things go bad you double down on the principles rather than abandon them," he says.

The latest figures show that Friday saw a massive spike in voter registration.

Of the approximately 308,000 registrations on Friday, around 206,000 came from under-35s. That group was split equally between people aged 25-34 and people under 25.

The previous high in the last year was approximately 177,000 registrations, which was on 30 November - the day after the election was announced.

Marvyn is clear that this is unlikely to have anything to do with his vial tweet: "there's lots of grassroots organizations getting people to vote," he says.

Although he was pleased to see several people replying to his tweet with screengrabs of the confirmation screen once they'd registered.

The deadline to register to vote is 26 November.

Image copyright Marvyn Harrison
Image caption Marvyn Harrison says he hasn't got much hate online for his stunt - and other have even copied it with other fake stories

Marvyn hopes that more black and Asian people sign up to vote in this election.

Data from the electoral commission suggests that black and Asian people are less likely to be registered to vote.

According to their research, 25% of black people, 24% of Asian people and 31% of mixed people eligible to vote are not registered.

That's compared to the national average of 17%.

"Black and Asian minorities are definitely underrepresented. I think they've seen this national conversation has very much excluded them," he says.

"We have the right to vote, and we still should be visible and loud.

"We still should let people know what our beliefs are and what we need for our environment in Britain - and vote as such."

Despite having to use a fake news story to get some people engaged, he says it does seem to have worked on some people.

Marvyn also defends his use of a fake story to dupe people into clicking on the link.

"I think people know the difference [between this and other fake news]," he says.

"This is a really quick and short experience. You thought it was Jay-Z and Beyonce breaking up, you went to go find the details.

"And then you saw that it was a click to vote. And it reminded you of what your obligation is.

"So I feel like this is within the spectrum of a light-hearted experience rather than a manipulation."

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