With an ongoing pandemic and an unprecedented lockdown of the nation’s capital, Joe Biden’s inauguration will look different from those that came before it.
The Biden inaugural committee has already planned a week of extensive televised events — like live performances from Lady Gaga and Fall Out Boy — but to try to recreate the camaraderie of a live event, the team has also come up with a new way for supporters to participate virtually.
On Wednesday, Biden’s team will launch a Snapchat lens that transports users to the Capitol to participate from home. Once the inaugural lens is selected in the Snapchat reel, users can take a selfie in front of the Capitol as confetti falls from above. If users flip the camera around, they’ll be greeted by a Biden Jumbotron in front of a crowd of inauguration attendees whose faces are selfies sent in by supporters online.
The Snaphat lens will play an exclusive message from Biden directly addressing Snapchatters. “Hey Snapchat!! It’s me, Joe. Welcome to inauguration!” he says.
The lens will also direct users who access it to a live stream of the inauguration event on Wednesday.
“This year’s inauguration has allowed us to create new, innovative, and creative tools for Americans across the country to participate in inaugural traditions and ceremonies while staying home to keep everyone safe,” said Christian Tom, digital director for the presidential inaugural committee. “We are excited for President-elect Biden to share his message around unifying the country with folks on Snapchat and invite them to be a part of this historic inaugural.”
Security measures have rendered traditional selfies impossible, as much of Washington, DC has been placed under lockdown in the wake of the Capitol riot. The FBI has warned of planned armed protests in the area, which encouraged the Department of Homeland Security to launch an inaugural security operation to keep the White House and Capitol safe through the inauguration events. Around 21,000 National Guard members will be in DC on Wednesday to help secure the event.
The inauguration Snapchat lens builds on the augmented reality tech Biden’s campaign used last year to get out the vote. In one lens ahead of Election Day, users could point their cameras at USPS mail boxes and receive directions on how to vote by mail. Last September, the Biden team put out merch for players of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and later that fall designed an entire island in the game for players to visit.
“We hope this tool will bring the inaugural experience to young Americans wherever they are and share it with their friends and families,” Tom said in a statement about the upcoming lens.