Scotland’s ‘Yes’ campaign winning Facebook battle

Facebook users have totted up about 10 million “interactions” relating to Thursday’s historic vote

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Scotland’s “Yes” campaign appears to have the edge online, figures released by Facebook on Tuesday showed, even though it is still trailing slightly in the polls despite a late surge.

Facebook users have totted up about 10 million “interactions” relating to Thursday’s historic vote over a five-week period, the social networking site said.

The data, which includes comments, posts, likes and shares from August 1 to September 8, indicates a narrow lead for the “Yes” campaign in terms of volume of activity.

There were more than 2.05 million interactions among users in Scotland relating to the pro-independence campaign, compared with 1.96 million related to the pro-union camp, Facebook said.

The remaining activity did not indicate a particular opinion.

Facebook also said the “Yes” campaign garnered 258,000 likes, growing by 27 percent over the five-week period while the “No” campaign grew by 17 percent to 182,000.

Offline opinion polls have put the outcome on a knife-edge.

Facebook said it will also launch a button on Thursday to allow voters in Scotland to indicate when they have voted.

The “I’m A Voter” button, which has been used in elections in the United States and India will not, however, reveal whether a “Yes” or “No” ballot was cast.

“Studies show that when people see their Facebook friends talking about voting, they are more likely to vote themselves,” said Elizabeth Linder, Facebook’s politics and government specialist for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Facebook’s research showed that interactions relating to First Minister pro-independence Alex Salmond have totalled 700,000, compared with 250,000 relating to Alistair Darling, a former finance minister who leads the “Better Together” campaign.

Debate has also been hotting up on Twitter in recent days, with a number of celebrities sharing their opinions.

Former England football captain David Beckham added his voice to the pro-union campaign, taking to the site to tell Scots: “We want to let you know how very much we value our relationship and friendship.”

Social media sites have also seen the uglier side of the two campaigns.

Former Scotland rugby union captain David Sole said Tuesday he was subjected to abuse after he publicly backed the “No” campaign on Twitter along with former teammates involved in the country’s 1990 Grand Slam victory over England.

“I feel that the campaign over the last three or four weeks has become increasingly aggressive, unpleasant, antagonistic and anti-English,” Sole told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

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