Thursday, November 09, 2006

Facebook Called U.S. Elections...

The recent U.S. elections were interesting. Aside from the actual race itself, I found what happened over at facebook very interesting. Facebook is like myspace, only it was, until recently, only open to university students and some schools. In the run up to the election, candidates had pages on the site to which users could link as "supporters" (rather thhan as "friends" as normally happens on the site), and there were Issues to which users copuld declare an interest in.

Given that each time you log in, the first page you see is a news feed of what your friends have recently done, one person with 300 friends (not that unusual on there) signing up to a candidate automatically generates a nice amount of free publicity for that candidate in a form that the candidate themselves could not possibly hope to do. It also allows candidates to post notes, and for supporters to post on their "wall" (again, like myspace). I wonder what effect this had on the race overall. I think the very fact that it being documented on the site increased the interest in the race among young people, even those who are not from the U.S. and had little interest in American electoral politics before (I'm calling this last bit on the basis of many of my friends).

But, even more interesting was the election pulse, which registered the support of the various candidates in each race, a kind of continuous online poll, if you will. When the votes were being counted, the vote share actually received was shown alongside the support-share on facebook. How I wish I'd had the forethought to look at this before the actual race, and how I wish the data was also available in its raw form (i.e. not simply as percentages), since it would have been a fascinating source for some electoral analysis.


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11/11/2006 9:48 PM  

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