Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Voting counter on Facebook

Facebook has a "People on Facebook Voted" ticker, which, I personally believe, is a good thing, with the potentiality of ramping up the number of voters. The app, which appears to be on anyone's page, lets you know where you voting location is, and (if you have voted) shows you how many Facebook users voted as well as the number of your friends that voted.

More info from the app page:
Today is Election Day in the United States and Facebook is committed to encouraging people who use our service to participate in the democratic process. As a result, Facebook is focused on ensuring that all of our users know where they can participate in this year’s elections.
U.S. users over age 18 will see a message at the top of their Facebook News Feed reminding them that it is Election Day and to go vote. The Facebook News Feed message will also contain a link to the Facebook Polling Place Locator (http://on.fb.me/d1BVSg), an application that lets users find out where they can vote. The app was developed with data from the non-partisan Voting Information Project (http://votinginfoproject.org/) and was built by the app developer Involver (http://www.involver.com/).
It's about 9:30AM on the East Coast. Even assuming that this already includes early-voting, this is a LARGE number. (Perhaps non-voters are also padding the numbers, but it's still large. I'll check back occasionally to see what's happening).

9:32 AM: One million, two hundred sixty-four thousand three hundred and ninety-one.

9:43 AM: One million, three hundred seventy-five thousand one hundred forty-four.

9:53 AM: One million, four hundred eighty-one thousand six hundred fifty-three.

10:00 AM: One million, five hundred fifty-eight thousand nine hundred eleven.

UPDATE: Looking at the presented value at 11:34AM (2,646,930 people on Facebook Voted), and graphing the trend in Excel, it appears that the counter is projecting forward along a linear function that is very similar (i.e., R^2=0.9997) to y=(2x10^7)x-(5x10^6). I don't know for sure if this is just an automated counter or not, but it sure does appear so. (For example, I would have expected a major up-tick in the voting around 11AM Michigan time, as Californians voted on their way to work... of course, I would also expect an uptick as Eastcoasters go vote during lunch.)

I don't know how difficult it would be to actually have a counter that reflects the total number of Facebook users clicking on "I voted", rather than making an automated ticker. In some sense, it is easy to make an automated ticker: just run an algorithm that conforms to an equation very similar to the one above, and voila! (That it goes to a theoretical maximum of 99,999,999 people also makes it worrisome, since this could mean that the programmers set a ceiling, because they knew that it was automated.) However, such an automated ticker would seem (to me) to devalue the whole use-Facebook-to-get-people-to-vote attempt.

End note: I will continue to sporadically check on this ticker to see how much (if at all) it deviates from the above equation.

UPDATE 2 (November 2, 2010, 2:40PM ): It looks like it is an automated ticker... based on the highly linear relationship that appears not to be swayed by time of day:

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