Independence debate heats up on Facebook header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

The influence of social media on everyday life has been demonstrated once more by the Scottish independence debate. 

According to Facebook, the five weeks up to September 8th have seen more than ten million interactions - roughly 275,000 per day - take place on the social network relating to the upcoming referendum.

Elizabeth Linder, the company's politics and government specialist for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, commented: "In just a month we've seen the referendum debate come to life on Facebook, with over ten million posts, comments and likes relating to the debate."

The social network is due to release a button for Scottish users on the day of the referendum (September 18th) that will allow them to tell their friends that they have voted. However, it will not ask them whether they chose yes or no.

Facebook said 85 per cent of the interactions surrounding the debate have taken place in Scotland. It found the Yes campaign is attracting slightly more attention, with 2.05 million posts, comments and likes, compared to 1.96 million for the No campaign. 

"Studies show that when people see their Facebook friends talking about voting, they are more likely to vote themselves," Ms Linder stated.

The Yes campaign generated 258,000 likes in the five-week period and interactions grew 27 per cent in this time. Better Together attracted 182,000 likes and grew by 17 per cent. Some 700,000 interactions focused on Yes campaign leader Alex Salmond, compared to Better Together leader Alistair Darling.

In an interview with Sky News, a senior strategist for the Yes campaign cited Facebook as a hugely important tool, as it allows a vast number of people to be easily reached. This is clear evidence of the growing role of social media, and the web as a whole, in every aspect of modern life.

In light of Facebook's findings, it would not be a surprise to see the social network play a similarly prominent role in next year's UK general election.