Facebook, like every other Internet site today, is dominated by election stuff, which you might find annoying. But it can actually do some good in this election. Believe it or not, posting information about voting on Facebook gets people to the polls in the real world, a study looking at data from the 2010 midterm elections found. The researchers presented three varieties of messages to eligible voters on Facebook: one social one that showed friends who'd voted, one that had strict voting information, and one that was no message at all. Those who had their friends' faces linked to the message were more likely to vote in the real world, proving that my Facebook friend Kathryn (above) isn't alone in feeling the peer pressure of her social network. It also helps explain why the Obama campaign sent out an email earlier today urging his people to "remind friends to vote" using the Facebook widget above.
The researchers attribute their findings to "social influence," but other studies suggest it's more emotional than just seeing a friend do something that can get people to vote. This is about two powerful motivators: Shame and FoMo (the fear of missing out). I don't know about your feed, but mine is full of exclamation points. "Enthusiasm," too, has been proven to get people voting, Sasha Issenberg explained in a column for The Los Angeles Times today. A piece of campaign mail doesn't exactly elicit excitement from someone who doesn't care about voting in the first place. However, watching your friends celebrate a thing they all did that you didn't, does.