Debate 'Comes To Life' On Facebook

There were more than 10 million interactions on Facebook relating to the referendum on Scottish independence during a five-week period, new research has found.

Including comments, posts, likes and shares, the majority of the discussion was from Scotland - a total of 85% in the five weeks up until September 8.

The data, which looked at volume and not sentiment, suggests that the Yes campaign has a slight lead in terms of the level of discussion, with more than 2.05 million interactions in Scotland, compared to 1.96 million for the No campaign during the same period.

The research has been released by the social networking site as it prepares to launch a button for voters in Scotland who login to Facebook via mobile on referendum day on Thursday allowing them to share with their friends that they have voted.

The I'm A Voter button will appear in the Facebook newsfeeds of those eligible to vote but it will not say whether they have voted Yes or No.

Elizabeth Linder, Facebook's politics and government specialist for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said: "In just a month we've seen the referendum debate come to life on Facebook, with over 10 million posts, comments and likes relating to the debate.

"Studies show that when people see their Facebook friends talking about voting, they are more likely to vote themselves. We hope the 'I'm a Voter' button will make it easy for voters to share that they are taking part in the referendum at the end of months of debate and discussion."

The data shows there were an average of nearly 275,000 referendum-related Facebook interactions every single day during the five weeks.

The Yes campaign page on Facebook has attracted 258,000 likes to the 182,000 of the No campaign and grew by 27% in the five week period, compared to Better Together, which grew by 17%.

There were more than one million interactions in Scotland around the phrase "Vote Yes" across the period - almost double the number of interactions around the phrase "Vote No".

Research also showed First Minister Alex Salmond drew 700,000 interactions in the UK as a whole, compared to 250,000 for the leader of the Better Together campaign Alistair Darling.

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