November 6, 2012
If you've been on Facebook today you've probably seen a button at the top of your news feed that says, "I'm a voter." Click it and you shall be counted. That simple click turns into a data point plotted on a map Facebook has created. The map visualizes who is voting and where in real-time. According to Facebook:
"This map is a representation of people on Facebook who clicked an Election Day prompt to share with their friends that they're voting in the 2012 US election. The information displayed on Facebook Stories has been anonymized and aggregated.The map displays bursts of activity as people share that they're voting. The size of each burst matches the number of people voting in that region right now. The histogram shows a record of activity over time, with an additional breakdown by gender and age."
The map relies on voters to click and indicate they've voted--which doesn't necessarily translate into a real-world vote. Except a recent study indicates peer pressure via social networks does influence voter turnout. According to the study led by the University of California, San Diego, Facebook users who saw a message indicating their friends had voted during the 2010 election were more likely to search for a polling station and click the "I voted" button than those who saw a simple informational message or no message at all.
In other words, peer pressure works. And as we've talked about on Excellence in Government in the past, principles like gamification, where you turn mundane activities into social experiences or competitions, has proven to increase engagement for organizations like NASA.
See Facebook's real-time map--and let us know if you clicked the "I voted" button.
November 6, 2012