How Facebook Increased General Election Voter Registration

While this year’s UK general election was taking place we ran many stories about how social media and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter were becoming more and more important in communicating with voters. We also noted how many more people were becoming more interested in politics because of this.

It seems our observations were correct especially about its influence on younger people. A report on Brad Insight, sourced from the Press Gazette, tells of a recent study from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ). The study says that 97% of 18-24 year olds not only used Facebook during the general election, but also the main source of their political information was online.

The lack of using newspapers and TV as sources of information is somewhat surprising on the face of it, but maybe not so surprising when considering the amount of time younger people spend online. An RISJ spokesperson made the point, “Online news sources may be at the expense of newspapers and broadcasters, but the study says traditional forms of media have ‘normalised’ their use of social media, both as source material and to extend their own service.”

There was also an Electoral Commission Campaign taking place in the General Election which sought to increase voter numbers with TV & Radio ads and Facebook. This resulted in half a million voters registering, of which half were in the 18-24 year group. Nic Newman, the RISJ author said as part of a conclusion that the study showed “how the internet enabled the election to come alive and engage, particularly the younger electorate.”

For more on this go to Bradinsight.com. During this last general election did you use the internet and online sources to receive most of your political information, and how do you think the popularity of social media reflected back on TV and news coverage of the election? We’d be interested to hear your comments on this.

  • Chris Gordon

    Social Media played a key role in bringing people together to dicuss the election – though as with many 'social media event' the commentry was not upon the subject matter, but upon the subjects. Not enough of the dialogue focused upon the policies of the participants not did it truely give place or voice for serious discussion and debate.

    With this in mind I would be hard pushed to beleive that Social Media influenced votes through communication, education and engagement – rather social media played its role as a 'peer-pressure network' which steered voters decisions.

    Social Media needs to grow up and continue to evolve until it becomes truely a place for dialogue and not a space for riddicule.