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September 13, 2012

New Study Shows Voters Drawn to the Polls by Social Media

By Jamie Epstein, TMCnet Web Editor

You have to live in a deep, dark cave these days to not understand the crucial role social media plays in virtually every person’s life. Realizing the sheer importance of these websites in getting an important message out to a large group of people instantly and because election season is now in full swing, a recent study published online on Wednesday by the journal Nature highlighted findings that millions of Facebook (News - Alert) users on Election Day 2010 realized these networks are vital in ramping up the amount of American citizens moving off the coach and into the polling booth.

In fact, according to findings highlighted by The New York Times, these extremely popular websites are proud to be responsible for increasing the amount of voters casting their ballots and are now displaying “get out the vote” messages which represent user’s friends right after they vote. 2010 was the first time this information was linked to social media and the results were extremely positive—adding up to nearly 340,000 additional votes around the country.

Those who participated in this exciting study range from scientists representing Facebook and the University of California, San Diego, who uniformly agree that this one-of-a- kind analysis represents that social networks plays a key role in elections that is not solely limited to getting voters to policing facilities.

An interesting point to highlight here is that patterns of influence were proven to be much stronger within a tight knit group of friends, a fact that could represent that “strong ties” even on the Web can lead to an effect to occur.

“What we have shown here is that the online world and the real world affect one another,” said James H. Fowler, a professor of medical genetics and political science at the university, in a statement.

On Nov. 2, 2010, the day that eventually led to Barack Obama becoming the president of the United States of America, every Facebook user viewed a nonpartisan “get out the vote” message on their news feed upon signing onto their account which contained a voting reminder, a link they could leverage to find the closest polling place to where they were currently located; and the ability to click an “I Voted” button that came complete with a counter that was continuously updated to represent how many Facebook users had voiced their opinion in regards to who the best suited man was to become commander in chief.

Just last month, I wrote a piece that detailed around 62 percent of adults’ worldwide now use social media and it is now ranked as the most popular online activity.  

In a separate study released by Digitas (News - Alert) in October 2011, 60 percent of respondents revealed that they now expect the next president of the United States to have a strong social media presence, with almost 40 percent revealing that information on these sites could be the determining factor in who they ultimately cast their ballot for.

It is extremely interesting to me how social media has literally made its way into every aspect of our daily lives, thus it only makes sense that it would eventually infiltrate one of our most vital rights- the right to vote.

Haven’t had your social media fix yet? Then be sure to check out my most recent episode of The Social Scene below!

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX. Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.




Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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