How Has Social Media Affected The Scottish Referendum?
Log into your social media account today and you may come across a story that makes you smile.
Amongst a flurry of images, opinion polls, status updates and more, there’s one story that was recently posted on popular newspaper Metro’s Facebook page , detailing the latest saga in the Scottish referendum debate. Pranksters in Scotland have had their two cents on the controversial issue by erecting a false ‘Scottish Border Control’ barrier at Carter Bar near Jedburgh.
The tongue-in-cheek story was shared by more than 300 Facebook users within the first hour of its publication, and moreover was ‘liked’ by more than 1,300 people. While this story might be a more light-hearted approach to the issue, it has inevitably helped to draw people’s attention to an issue that is dividing the nation.
On 18th September, residents across Scotland will be given the opportunity to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the simple question: Should Scotland be an independent country? Campaigners in and out of Scotland have tried their best to persuade voters one way or another; while the Yes Scotland group are campaigning for independence, Better Together is trying to convince others that we are better united.
Try as they might however, these groups can only have so much power of influence, and without question, social media is one of the main catalysts for people’s final decisions. The overwhelming influence of social media has been proven in the latest opinion polls – while recent polling has suggested that ‘no’ voters will emerge victorious, the reaction on social media shows the complete opposite. In a survey taken by Facebook which officially finished on 8th September, it was revealed that in the 10 million interactions relating to the Scottish referendum, 2.05 million said they would be voting ‘yes’, compared to just 1.96 million who would be voting ‘no.’
With a vote for independence widely considered as the more extreme or perhaps rebellious vote, the results of Facebook polls may perhaps have been predictable. Social media pages are a sounding board for people’s opinions, and it could be perceived that those who are campaigning for change are more likely to be influenced by these pages.
Indeed, other factors may have affected the general swing of the vote, such as novelty betting on the Scottish referendum , which is in itself proving to be a lucrative venture.
The way we receive and perceive news however has changed. Had this referendum have taken place a decade ago, without the aid of social media to sway our perceptions, it could perhaps have been a very different outcome altogether.