Friday 24 March 2017

Health, financial woes, and social welfare dominates election debate on social media, says Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook. Photo: Bloomberg
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook. Photo: Bloomberg

David Kearns

Health dominates the online discussion when it comes to voters’ number one issue this general election.

New data released by Facebook reveals that the topic accounted for 52 pc of the conversations that involved the upcoming vote this February 26th.

Among the other issues of importance to the social network’s 2.5 million Irish users includes the economy, infrastructure, social welfare and crime and corruption.

Read More: Coalition support slips as 64 pc of voters want new Government, poll shows

The data also shows that housing, education, flooding and abortion feature in the top ten election issues being talked about on the site.

Unsurprisingly, Fine Gael features in more than half of all discussions on Facebook, followed by Sinn Féin (42 pc), Labour (40 pc) and Fianna Fáil (36 pc).

The Green Party comes in at fifth on 7 pc, followed by Renua (5 pc), Social Democrats (5 pc), People Before Profit and Anti-Austerity Alliance at a combined 8 pc

When it comes to party leaders, Taoiseach Enda Kenny's name appears in over two thirds of discussions on Facebook which mention the general election, while Labour leader Joan Burton comes in at 39 pc.

Read More: Polls spell dark day for Labour and worry for all main parties

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams accounts for 17 pc of conversations on the social network, followed by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin (9 pc) and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan (1 pc).

“With An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, having only just officially called the election, we would expect to see that level of conversation rise further as we approach polling day,” said Elizabeth Linder, Facebook’s Politics & Government Specialist for the Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) region.

Facebook said there has been, in total, three million interactions about the general election, involving 600,000 Irish users, since it began monitoring parties, candidates and keywords related to election issues since November.

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