2015 will be an interesting year for politics. Whether you love it or hate it, social media is completely changing the landscape of voter participation, one Facebook post at a time. The social media company is no stranger to watching voting and post activity analytics, keeping track of trends with some intriguing and perhaps unsettling blog updates regarding national voter turnout on Election Day. However, one of the bigger controversies is the question of how our newsfeeds might influence our decisions. According to The Verge, “Facebook had been running another newsfeed experiment, giving news stories an algorithmic boost for certain users to see if it heightened civic engagement, as measured by a questionnaire.” Do these algorithms guarantee that Facebook viewers gain exposure to unbiased items in their news feeds? If not, then it’s certainly possible that our newsfeeds could subtly influence a user’s affinity for specific candidates or party alliances.
One of the most intriguing things about Facebook’s involvement in voting culture is the ability to share a status update by clicking on the “I’m A Voter” button. This small widget allowed you to see exactly how many Facebook users voted this year. Researchers believe that this status sharing increases the likelihood that your peers will hit the polls. According to research described in The New Republic, “users notified of their friends’ voting were 0.39 percent more likely to vote than those in the control group.”
If politicians haven’t been thinking about social media engagement in the past, they will need to do so now. During previous year elections, the same study revealed that these Facebook voter statuses “caused an additional 340,000 votes to be cast that day.” These numbers cannot be ignored, especially as politicians try to mobilize younger Americans to get to the polls.
Full Article: How Facebook Influences Voter Participation.