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The 2015 General Election – According to Social Media

So that’s it then, another 5 years gone and the UK has elected a new government. The outlook at the moment seems to overwhelmingly suggest that David Cameron’s Conservatives are going to rule as a majority government (although that’s far from a certainty, there are a lot of variables which need to be considered). Elsewhere the SNP almost completely swept Scotland, UKIP saw a massive uptick in votes, despite only securing one seat, ditto the Greens. I have my own thoughts on the results, but I will dutifully keep them to myself for the purposes of this article, this is Social Songbird after all, not Political Songbird (million dollar idea, though). With that in mind, how has this result been reflected on social media?

Well in terms of sheer Twitter activity, it seems to almost perfectly reflect the result. Figures released last night suggest that the Tories were getting 39% of the mentions compared to Labour’s 36%. The SNP had 9%, with UKIP on 7, the Lib Dems on 8 and the Greens with 1. Given the way the polls have been going, it’s a fair bet that the continued activity this morning has been much the same. Twitter also got in on the voting declaration act with the #IVoted hashtag, although it didn’t get anywhere near the same level of exposure as the Facebook version.

Of course that’s all well and good, but memes are really the heart of internet culture at times like this, derivative as they are. During the actual voting yesterday the #DogsAtPollingStations trend took off, with people sharing pictures of dogs patiently waiting for their masters to vote. As it turned out, it was all the doing of Innocent Smoothies, which should come as no surprise, their ad campaigns are uniformly excellent.
Later into the evening as the count started, the exit poll heavily favoured the Tories, shocking everyone, particularly Lord Ashdown, who said he would eat his hat if it turned out to be correct. The internet being what it is, hundreds of Twitter and Facebook users began posting images of hats, effectively creating an interactive menu for Ashdown to select from. At time of writing there are 15 or so seats left to call, but it’s looking like he might have to keep his word.

The other big buzz was caused by some timely Wikipedia sabotage, as the pages for several party leaders were edited (or defaced) in creative and interesting ways. Most notably, David Cameron’s page was tweaked so that the image was replaced with one of Ed Miliband, it was rectified by the moderators within minutes, but it was still up long enough for Twitter and the like to notice.

Since the results have started coming in, things have gotten a little more heated/dismal. BuzzFeed have been keeping a running tally of exactly how much deposit money the Liberal Democrats have been losing the wake of their disastrous performance, the Greens have enacted an all-out assault on the UK electoral system, citing the fact that they gained over 1,000,000 votes, but one measly seat. The #FairVotesNow hashtag is already trending.

The most noise, however, seems to have been made about the overwhelming victory in Scotland by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP. The ‘Angry Salmond’ parody account has been swearing up a storm and ever-increasing online chatter about the future of the country has emerged.

Likely as anything more social media stories will continue to generate over the weekend, but those are the headlines for now. Whatever your stance might be, this has been a fascinating, unpredictable electoral race and social media has had a significant hand in that.

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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The 2015 General Election – According to Social Media Reviewed by Unknown on Friday, May 08, 2015 Rating: 5

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