As if there haven’t been enough political discussions on Facebook of late, the social network seems to believe that another push is needed to encourage users to go out and vote. Facebook announced today that throughout Election Day in Israel, on March 17, it will display a special button with which users can share the fact that they have voted with their friends in real time. The button will appear on the news feeds of all users over 18 years old (voting age), but there is no mechanism with which to verify that users who say they have voted have actually done so. So, it’s possible users will say they have voted when they in fact have not. The button is expected to include a link to the Central Elections Committee website, which will provide additional information, such as voting booth locations, a list of candidates, and the like.
Facebook explains that the desire to integrate such a button is a product of studies indicating that discussion on the social network can lead to an increase in voter turnout. A 2012 University of California, San Diego study, which was published in “Nature” magazine, indicated that in 2010, more than 300,000 US citizens went out to vote in the congressional elections after seeing on Facebook that their friends had already voted.
The “I Voted” button has already been implemented in the past three US elections, in the EU parliamentary elections, and in India, where the button was shown to 31 million people, 4.3 million of whom indicated that they were voting.
Facebook EMEA Politics & Government expert Elizabeth Linder explained, “Facebook connects people with the things that are important to them, and election periods are rich with significant conversation moments and civilian debates. The voter-participation rate is an important matter worldwide, and in Israel, we hope that the “I’m Voting” button will make it easier for voters to share the fact that they are participating in the elections, and will serve as a reminder to others to go out and vote.”
Former Israeli President Shimon Peres led a similar initiative in the last Knesset elections, in January 2013, as part of a campaign to encourage voter participation. A Facebook app appeared on Peres’s Facebook page, which made it possible to invite four Facebook friends who would then be required to “check in” from various voting booths on Election Day.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 18, 2015
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