Cordele Dispatch, Cordele, GA

Homepage

September 14, 2012

Facebook friends' voting has impact on Election Day turnout, study finds

One message sent to 60 million Facebook users on Election Day 2010 got at least 300,000 additional people to vote, according to a study published Wednesday in Nature magazine.

The message showed the recipient which friends said they had already voted. The result was that the recipient was likely to also go out and vote. In addition, for every user who was persuaded to vote, four friends were as well.

But if no friends were shown as having voted, the message had little impact.

The leader of the research said that 300,000 was a conservative estimate. "The actual number is probably closer to a million people," said James Fowler, a professor of medical genetics and political science at the University of California at San Diego.

Fowler said he got the idea for the project when he saw that Facebook displayed messages urging its users to vote. In collaboration with Cameron Marlow, who manages the data science team at Facebook, he persuaded the company to leave out a small portion of users, enabling a randomized study.

On Nov. 2, 2010, every U.S. resident 18 and older who accessed Facebook became part of a huge trial.

More than 60 million people received what Fowler calls a "social message" on top of Facebook's News Feed. It encouraged voting and showed a clickable button reading "I Voted," a counter of how many Facebook users had reported voting and up to six random profile pictures of friends who had clicked the "I Voted" button.

One control group of about 600,000 people received an "informational message" that lacked the profile pictures and another group of the same number got no message at all.

The data of 6.3 million users were matched anonymously to voter records.

Users who received the social message were 2 percent more likely to click the "I Voted" button than those who got the informational message. Furthermore, they were 0.4 percent more likely to vote than receivers of the informational message or no message.

Text Only
Local news
Vienna designated Purple Heart City

At a recent meeting Vienna received their offical designation as a Purple Heart City. Displaying one of four new signs for the city are Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 1000 Commander John Flener, Vienna resident and Purple Heart recipients Larry Westbrook and Mack Bush and Mayor Eddie Daniels

Local Sports
Online Extras
Opinion
Entertainment
Homepage

Business Marquee
Must Read
AP Video
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp
House Ads
More
Weather Radar
Video Gallery
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Seasonal Content
Poll

Will you be following the Olympic Games?

A. Yes
B. No
C. Only some events
     View Results