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The Effect of Social Media Networks on Voter Turnout

For the past six years on American national election days, Facebook has added a button to the top of everyones news feed with a large button that says “I’m Voting” or “I’m a Voter.” Facebook has been using this tool to see how it can affect voter turnout.

For example, in 2010 Facebook had different versions of the “I’m Voting” button on over 60 million users to see how different versions of the button affected voter turnout. Two groups of 600,000 users each were used as control groups, one of which saw nothing voting related, and another which saw the button, but no information pertaining to their friends voting.

The results from this particular experiment were that about 20 percent of those who saw that their friends had voted also clicked on the “I Voted” button, whereas 18 percent of people who did not see that their friends had voted also clicked on the button. This means that positive social feedback cause more people to at least claim that they voted as well, demonstrating how what people in your network are doing can affect your behavior and actions in an attempt to follow the group.

The study concluded that at least 340,000 people voted as a direct result of seeing the voter button on their news feed, a number which corresponds to about 0.14 percent of the voting age population in the United States in 2010.

A similar study was again conducted by Facebook in 2012, in the Indian national elections in the spring of 2014, in the Brazilian elections, can be expected to be seen in the European Union vote, and can be expected to be seen again on Tuesday November fourth for all voting age Americans.

Sources:

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/can-voting-facebook-button-improve-voter-turnout

http://fowler.ucsd.edu/massive_turnout.pdf

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