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Facebook lights up the Coca-Cola London Eye with the nation’s general election conversations

  • Friday May 1st 2015
  • Press Release

London Eye lit up for Facebook

Every evening, starting tonight, Facebook data will power a light show on the London Eye to highlight the scale of General Election conversation and the state of the race between parties and their leaders.

Past studies (Nature, 2012) have shown that conversation on Facebook ahead of an election can increase voter turnout. In 2010, 300,000 voters went to the polls in America having seen Facebook posts from their friends. It is hoped that charting the conversational election on the London Eye will help encourage British voters not just to have their say on Facebook, but to turn out at the polls on May 7th.

Tonight the iconic London Eye will be transformed into a ground-breaking visual representation to show how 8.4 million people on Facebook are talking about the main UK political parties. Facebook data behind the visualization shows that between January 1st and May 1st, UKIP was the most discussed UK political party on Facebook - attracting over 15.6 million interactions (likes, comments and shares) from 3 million individuals.

The Conservative Party was the second most talked about party (12.2 million interactions from 2.5 million people), followed by Labour (9.7 million interactions from 2 million people), The Liberal Democrats (2 million interactions from 688,000 people) and the SNP (2 million interactions from 415,000 people). These were followed by the Green Party (1.3 million interactions from 434,000 people), Plaid Cymru (31,000 interactions from 17,000 people), the DUP (40,000 interactions from 25,000 people) and Sinn Fein (4,000 interactions from 2,500 people).

Interactions around all of the parties have accelerated in recent weeks, with UKIP, the Lib Dems and the SNP seeing the largest gains.
UKIP (Facebook interactions increased by 60.8%)
Lib Dems (Facebook interactions increased by 53.8%)
SNP (Facebook interactions increased by 53.8%)
Conservatives (Facebook interactions increased by 48.7%)
Labour (Facebook interactions increased by 46.9%)

Today’s data also reveals the state of the race in key marginal seats. UKIP may be attracting the most national discussion, but it is also the most talked about party in 35 of the top 40 marginal seats, with the Conservatives dominating in the remaining five.

Facebook’s Politics and Government specialist for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Elizabeth Linder, said:

“Politics is huge on Facebook – we expect it to be the most discussed topic in the UK this year. We’ve seen over 52M interactions related to the General Election so far this year, and we’re excited to be able to bring this conversational election to life in the heart of London using our data and the iconic Coca-Cola London Eye”

The data also revealed:
The SNP surge is being reflected on Facebook – the number of people discussing Nicola Sturgeon’s party has increased by 61% since April 1st, more than any other party
The Conservatives are dominating discussion in Sheffield Hallam, where Nick Clegg is battling to retain his seat. The Liberal Democrats are the fourth most talked about party in the Yorkshire seat and are the fifth most discussed party in Paisley and Renfrewshire South, where Danny Alexander is fighting for re-election
UKIP is dominating discussion in a number of prominent seats – Nigel Farage’s party is the most talked about party in South Thanet, Thurrock, Rochester & Strood, Uxbridge and South Ruislip (where Boris Johnson is a PCC), Witney (David Cameron’s seat), Doncaster North (Ed Miliband’s seat) and Holborn and St. Pancras (where Natalie Bennett is the PCC).

The display has been made possible using anonymised Facebook data, and was conceived by artists Bompas & Parr. The display will highlight a different theme and topic each evening. These range from the most discussed party nationwide (1st May) and the most talked about election related issues (4th May), to the party leaders driving discussion on Facebook in the race for Number 10 (6th May).
Sam Bompas of Bompas & Parr said:

“During the last election we created the Parliamentary Waffle House, an election-themed eatery featuring a food based swing-o-meter. For 2015 we are delighted to use the huge volume of Facebook conversations about politics to create an inspiring installation that we hope will encourage people to have their say – on Facebook and at the polls on May 7th.”

During the light show, which will start each evening at 21.30 GMT, the level of discussion will be reflected in the color of the lights on the wheel – with the largest party, issue or party leader commanding a larger slice of the London Eye – turning the iconic London structure into a giant pie chart.