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1 in 5 voters using social media to urge others to vote

But does social media shaming actually work?

Technology trends and news by Faith Merino
November 6, 2012 | Comments
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/2b7f

In less than 10 hours, we’ll know who will be making the rules for the next four years.  I voted and I feel righteous.  Not that Romney or Obama care, since I’m not in Ohio.  It must be really awful to be an Ohio resident…  I imagine it would feel like winning a small lottery every four years—not enough to do much for you, but enough to draw a whole bunch of marriage proposals from jerks who just want you for your vote.  And then when election season is over, you go back to being Plain Jane who can’t afford your Depo Provera shot.

But Swing State voter or not, get out and vote so you can announce your righteousness on Facebook.  Everyone else is.  Indeed, a survey published Tuesday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project finds that 22% of registered voters have already announced how they voted on Facebook and Twitter.  The survey polled 861 voters from November 1-4, so I’m sure the number has gone way, way up by now.

Additionally, 30% of voters have been encouraged to vote for Obama or Romney by friends on Facebook or Twitter, and 20% have encouraged others to vote by posting on a social media platform.  If you’re wondering who’s being the most vocal (read: pontificating), the survey shows that 25% of Obama backers have posted their presidential preference versus 20% of Mitt Romney supporters, but Pew researchers say that that difference is not statistically significant.

Facebook has, once again, made it easier to peer-pressure your friends into voting by allowing users to click on an “I’m voting” button at the top of their page, so that all of your friends will see that you voted and be ashamed.  Does it work?  Actually, it looks like it does, according to a study released in September by the University of California, San Diego. 

During the 2010 elections, when Facebook offered the clickable “I voted” button along with polling info and pictures of six friends who also said they voted, 600,000 Facebook users were randomly assigned a similar message—except that it didn’t include pictures of friends.  Another 600,000 users weren’t shown an Election Day message from Facebook at all.

Researchers compared the clicks against public records of who really voted and found that those who were shown the message with the pictures of their friends were, indeed, much more likely to actually go out and vote than those who were shown the message without the photos.  Interestingly, those who were shown the message without the photos were as likely to go out and vote as those who didn’t receive the message at all.

In all, about 300,000 more people voted in 2010 as a direct result of the Facebook message. 

The moral of the story: peer pressure works. So vote, announce it on Facebook/Twitter, and shame your friends into doing likewise. 

 

Image source: rvanews.com


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