Facebook 'I'm a voter' button makes UK election debut

Facebook will once again be rolling out its ‘I’m a voter’ button on Thursday morning to allow people who vote in the UK General Election to tell their friends they’ve been to the polling station.

Providing they are of voting age, users will be able to click the button to show that they have voted, in what Facebook hopes will have a positive impact on turnout.

It is the first time the button has been introduced for a UK general election, despite being used in the last three US elections, the EU parliamentary election, last year’s independence referendum in Scotland and also India, where the button reached 31 million people with 4.3 million sharing that they had voted.

The company said: “Voters logging on to Facebook this Thursday will see a ‘megaphone’ message at the top of their Facebook News Feed and will be able to click to share that they are voting with their friends.

“By clicking the button people can highlight their status as a voter to their Facebook friends, without specifying who they voted for.”

The role Facebook has played in voter turnout in recent years has been the subject of some debate, with several different studies attempting to determine to what extent the social network has exerted an influence on its users.

A study published in Nature in 2012 found that conversation on Facebook in the run-up to an election can increase voter turnout, with more than 300,000 Americans going out to vote in 2010, having seen Facebook posts from their friends.

Facebook also revealed that the general election was shaping up to be the most-discussed topic by users in the UK so far this year, with mentions increasing gradually in recent weeks.

Crunching anonymous election data, Facebook announced recently that the economy has been the most discussed topic of the election, with 4.5 million interactions by 1.4 million people. Immigration is second with 3.7 million interactions by 1.3 million people, followed by health in third place.

Beginning on May Day, the London Eye has been illuminated with data from Facebook to reflect the “conversational election”, a phrase the social media platform is pushing to gauge users’ views. This data projection will continue until election day.

“Politics is huge on Facebook and with over 52 million interactions related to the General Election already this year, we fully expect it to be the most discussed topic in the UK in 2015,” said Elizabeth Linder, Facebook’s politics and government specialist for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Recent articles