We often hear about Facebook’s incredible power over election results—it’s something I’ve reported on frequently this year. This week, we got a sense of just how outsize that power may be.
Tuesday, June 7, is the last day for U.K. citizens to register to vote in the referendum on whether the United Kingdom should remain in the European Union. Last Friday, Facebook began encouraging its users to register to vote in that election by displaying a reminder at the top of their News Feeds.
According to the U.K. government, applications to register spiked that day—but only from users applying online, and not from users applying by paper. About 186,000 people filed voter registration forms online on Friday, more than double the number submitted in the days before:
Voter Registration Applications, by Type
And it was relatively young people who were doing most of that applying. Nearly 120,000 people, aged 34 or younger, registered to vote on Friday, according to the U.K. government. That’s more than the number of registrations filed by all other age sectors combined:
Voter Registration Applications Per Day, Segmented by Age
This correlation was first reported by Dan Barker on Twitter. Because gov.uk, the British government’s website, displays the data by local timezone, users in North America will see the spike occurring on June 2.