Facebook readies Election Day bits blitz

The social network is boosting its efforts, sending out message to people's smartphones and creating a real-time map that shows voting activity of Facebook users.

Facebook's 2010 get-out-the-vote message. UC San Diego

Facebook engineers are putting the final touches on an all-out election day blitz of products and features all U.S. members of voting age will see tomorrow.

Just as it did for the presidential election in 2008 and the midterm elections in 2010, the social network will remind users that it's election day with a message that appears on top of their news feeds. Then, when you click that you voted, that message will appear for your Facebook friends to see. This time around, however, Facebook will also blast out the message to users across all mobile devices, which should up its usage and potentially the impact.

Facebook last night started rolling out a polling place locator across many of its pages, such as its U.S. Politics page. And Facebook users will easily be able to navigate from the "Today is Election Day" to the locator.

Among the other things Facebook is doing for this election day:

  • Real-time map. The Facebook Stories team has built a real-time heat map that will show hot spots around the country. When people click the election day message, the map will accumulate the data and show where Facebook members are voting.
  • Election day chatter. Facebook's data team will be using Talk Meter throughout the day and will post results on the U.S. Politics on Facebook page. This measures the overall chatter around an event and terms associated with that topic and ranks them on a scale of 1-10. The company used this after the debates as well.

The obvious question is how much Facebook's efforts actually encourage people to vote. One study, led by the University of California at San Diego and based on the 2010 election, found that peer pressure mattered : People seeing that their friends had voted did, in fact, make them go to the polls.

About the author

Paul Sloan is editor in chief of CNET News. Before joining CNET, he had been a San Francisco-based correspondent for Fortune magazine, an editor at large for Business 2.0 magazine, and a senior producer for CNN. When his fingers aren't on a keyboard, they're usually on a guitar. Email him here.

 

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