Facebook and Twitter got the Scottish referendum all wrong

Just after 6 AM today, the results were in: Scotland had voted to stay in the United Kingdom by 55% to 45%. Whether it was because of Gordon Brown’s unexpectedly rousing speech, the Better Together campaign’s uninspiring ad, or just because people tend to stick with what they know, the final result was 2,001,926 votes for ‘No’ and 1,617,989 for ‘Yes, let’s go and do our own thing now, please.’

As one of the biggest referendums in UK history, #indyref was unsurprisingly all over social media. As the Guardian reported, there were over 10 million Facebook interactions (including posts, likes, and shares) in the five weeks before Scotland went to the polls, and those interactions suggested a slightly pro-Independence bias. (As Sky News notes, the Yes campaign’s page even had over 100, 000 more likes than the No campaign’s.)

And if you’ve been following the debate on Twitter, you’d be forgiven for thinking that things could very easily have gone the other way. According to TheySay, which provided ‘sentiment analysis’, in the hours before the election, the Yes campaign dominated social media in terms of number of tweets, with 40,000 Scottish tweets showing 3.7 times more traffic than the No campaign, with 82% positive feeling. So if the results had followed Twitter trends, we’d all be rushing to bleach the blue from our union flags today.

But while you couldn’t predict the result from Twitter or Facebook, Grindr was on point. According to Gizmodo, opinions gathered by a pollster on Grindr showed the result being 54% No, 46% Yes. What have we learned from this? Well, when it comes to major world events, it looks like you can’t trust social media predictions… but you can rely on sex apps.

Image via The Laird of Oldham’s Flickr.

Diane Shipley

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