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Bad miscall on use of Twitter lay behind Brexit result, analysis shows

The Culture

As young residents of Great Britain desperately claw at anything that looks like it might reverse the EU Referendum, vote experts are looking at their hand-wringing freakouts on Twitter and wondering how it could come to pass that millennials helped Brexit happen. Spoiler: if you’re looking at social media for your answer, you’re only looking at affluent youngsters, who live in an online filter bubble and probably didn’t vote.

Social media campaigns hoping to prompt a “remain” vote were extremely vocal, employing top ad agencies, and using every hashtag under the sun to stimulate some movement. Pro-Brexit “Leave” campaigns also had an impressive presence, especially on Instagram. Social scientists have also turned to explore how bots may have played an influential role in the debate, as hundreds of thousands of automated messages from both sides of the debate could be observed in just one week.

Now, a new report from UK-based market research company IPSOS reveals just who within the country was actually listening down the far end of the Twitter-hose as all this noise was being made. Unsurprisingly, Twitter’s biggest users within the country are the young and affluent. A much greater percentage of upper and upper-middle class folk in younger age brackets use Twitter in the UK, which makes them more likely to be reached by ill-conceived messages like the #votin hashtag, derided as condescending in how it tried to mimic the slang of the working-class youth.

Not on Twitter all that much, meanwhile, were the country’s traditional working class and older populations—who were ultimately responsible for locking in Britain’s departure from Europe. They took their nationalist fears surrounding job security, and outright xenophobia, straight past social media and on to the ballot box. Young voters, while overwhelmingly in favor of remaining within the European Union, simply didn’t put pen to paper in the ballot box: Turnout in areas with high youth populations was especially low, and some estimates state that as little as 36 percent of the country’s 18-24 voter base participated (compared to 83 percent of over-65 voters). Which means that while Twitter may have been a noisy box full of political propaganda, it didn’t correlate to an urge to vote.

This article continues at [Vocativ] Youth Twitter And The Brexit: What Went Wrong

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