Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Features

September 13, 2012

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

(Continued)

"Given the modest treatment, it is surprising that they found any effect at all," said Gerald Kane, an associate professor of information systems at Boston College, who was not involved with the study.

The scientists concluded that the informational message was ineffective. The social message, on the other hand, was powerful because it probably provided social pressure on the users to vote by showing them that friends had reported voting, Fowler said.

The scientists found that for every recipient persuaded by the message to vote, four close Facebook friends — relationships identified by a high number of Facebook interactions — ended up voting as a result.

"We don't know how this works; it could be that on Facebook, you see that a friend has voted or that he simply takes you with him to vote," Fowler said.

The scientists could not find a difference between Republicans or Democrats who were activated by the message. But Fowler said the methods for discriminating between the two groups were primitive in this study — it involved reading the political preference written by users on their profiles, and only 1 percent of the users provided one. But for future studies, the team is developing more intricate analyses, inferring political orientation from what comments users write and where they place their "likes".

Many social scientists are eager to use Facebook's data for their experiments. "This is the most exciting research of my lifetime," Fowler said.

"This kind of approach should revolutionize our understanding of human behavior," said David Lazer of Northeastern University, a social network expert who is not associated with the study but is pursuing similar work.

In a conference call with reporters, Facebook's Marlow said that he could not comment directly on whether Facebook is planning something similar for this year's election but added that Facebook is committed to supporting the democratic process.

Text Only
Features
  • nws - bv081214 - schebler A Wales of a time While most college students covet having the summer off, Emily Schebler, a Ball State University sophomore, has spent the last six weeks delving deep into everything Welsh.The daughter of Rob and Marta Schebler, Batesville, was selected to participat

    August 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • nws - bv081214 - schebler A Wales of a time While most college students covet having the summer off, Emily Schebler, a Ball State University sophomore, has spent the last six weeks delving deep into everything Welsh.The daughter of Rob and Marta Schebler, Batesville, was selected to participat

    August 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • nws - bv080814 - EC orientation ECHS freshmen welcomed ST. LEON – East Central High School administrators and staff members decided to try something different on the first day of school. In the past, motivational speakers have discussed various topics with students, but this year, after the teens went to

    August 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • How county seniors stay young BROOKVILLE – “You don’t stop being active because you get old, you get old because you stop being active.” That’s how the modern altruism goes and that’s the reason behind the Franklin County Senior Center, according to executive director Cathy Pelso

    August 8, 2014

  • nws - bv080114 - roell car Retired farmer wins a new car Floyd Roell had a feeling. Last year, he bought a ticket for the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway, but had no premonition. This year, the giveaway kept popping up in front of his face, reminding him about his granddaughter, but still no sixth sense.“This

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • nws - bv072914 - kids kick drugs (new) 'You can say no' to drugs About 50 youngsters participated in the Southeastern Indiana YMCA’s Kids Kick Drugs program July 26. Master George Dwenger (a person receives the title of Master after completing the 4th Degree Black Belt) told the youngsters, “First and most importa

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • nws - bv070814 - muething RAA gave theater founder his start When John Leo Muething was 5 and living in Batesville, his three older siblings and parents, Dr. Steve and Meg Muething, starred in the Rural Alliance for the Arts production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” but, much to his dismay,

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • nws - bv070814 - jeffers West Point graduation Jeffers savors West Point experience Tom Jeffers, a 2010 Batesville High School graduate, recently graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point. The Fort Sill, Oklahoma, resident is the son of former Batesville residents Tom and Kathleen Jeffers, Alexandria, Virginia,

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • nws - bv062714 - STEM - sara bauer Students learn valuable STEM skills Two area students attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point’s Middle School STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Workshop June 2-5.Alexandra Cottingham, Batesville, daughter of Rebecca Krieger Cottingham and Michael Cottingham,

    June 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • nws - bv062014 - Eckstein family Cancer hits home for local family Cancer survivors and those who have lost their fight with the disease will be honored during the June 21-22 Ripley County Relay for Life. One local individual who will be remembered is Mark Eckstein, Batesville, who worked for the Batesville Water an

    June 20, 2014 1 Photo