A study released today by the Rideau Institute finds that Facebook has been adopted by older, politically engaged voters to express frustration over the government’s decision to prorogue Parliament.
A survey conducted by online public engagement strategist Pierre Killeen suggests that a majority of the more than 200,000 Canadian Facebook users who joined an anti-prorogation online group did so because they felt that the government’s decision was undemocratic (53%) or that Parliament should be investigating the handling of Afghan detainees (33%).
Despite the popular perception that the online social networking site is the purview of young people who typically don’t vote, the study “Facebook and Prorogation” found that users who joined the anti-prorogation group were likely to be over the age of 45 (50%), to consider themselves somewhat or very “politically engaged”(88%), and to have voted in the last election (96%).
“Facebook is a new way for people to participate in politics,” said Killeen. “The survey results show that decision makers should not dismiss the Facebook group ‘Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament’ given the overrepresentation of active voters in its growing membership.”
For most of its members, this was the first time they had joined a Facebook group with a political theme (55%), and three-quarters felt that joining would “make a difference” (75%).
“This study shows that Facebook could provide an important means for political parties and interest groups to organize committed supporters or gauge public opinion,” said Steven Staples, President of the Rideau Institute.
This survey was conducted online from January 13 to January 16, 2010. An invitation to participate in the survey was posted on the “wall” and the discussion board of Facebook’s Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament group, and 341 people responded to the survey.
David Eaves, Anti-prorogation activists: engaged, voting and older, Globe and Mail, 21 January 2010.