Facebook is encouraging voting by exerting a little peer pressure, which could mean a 2.2 percent increase in voter turnout, according to a recent study.
Today Facebook is encouraging its millions of users to proclaim "I'm a Voter" at the top of their newsfeeds. Aside from joining the bandwagon, this simple click can also influence peers to vote.
Researcher James Fowler said that single message on election day propelled an extra 300,000 people to the voting booth, according to TechCrunch. The 61 million-person study published in Nature showed that when an "I Voted" button was on a newsfeed, it influenced an additional 2.2 percent to vote.
According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, social media is very influential in people's lives and that doesn't stop on election day. In a study done last week, Pew found that 22 percent of voters informed others they voted on Twitter or Facebook. Another 30 percent were encouraged to vote for either presidential candidate on social media while another 20 percent were encouraged to vote. While the vast majority were encouraged to vote for specific candidates face-to-face, respondents were also encouraged on social media, in emails and in texts.
If someone wanted to be a couch potato and sit out the election, previously they just would do that. Now with Facebook and Twitter, it makes it hard to ignore that you may be one of the few not participating. This means that a small number of voters will be moved by this peer pressure, which is better than no number at all.