Courting the social media vote


Research shows around 30 per cent of [American] voters have been persuaded to vote for main parties via internet posts – while almost one in five registered voters [in  America] has revealed who they have voted for on a social networking site such as Facebook or Twitter. 

The degree to which some people can impact others’ decision making and choices has sky rocketed. So with the New South Wales and Queensland elections looming, swinging voters are bound to be influenced when it finally comes to voting for a party. The question is, to what extent?

According to Alison Ledgerwood, an assistant professor of psychology at UC Davis, it is extremely common for people to unintentionally be impacted upon when it comes to decision making. This can be seen through the 61million person experiment on Facebook, led by James Fowler from the University of California.

In 2010, Fowler began a randomised controlled test to see how much influence was carried through social media. Messages were delivered to 61 million Facebook users during the US congressional election. From the results it could be seen that the messages directly impacted upon millions of peoples voting choices during the elections. However, the messages not only influenced the recipients, they also impacted friends or users, and friends of friends.

The influence wielded through social networking is staggering. It suggests through social interaction, either via social media or face to face conversations, people are greatly influenced by those around them. So no matter the size, this voting season any gesture may persuade us to choose one way or another.

*Jessie Cross is undertaking her Higher School Certificate (HSC). She is currently (January 2015) on work experience with Wells Haslem.