Many Americans Sharing Who They Voted for on Social Networks

Photograph by Press Association via AP Images

About one-fifth of Americans registered to vote shared their political picks on social networks, according to a new study.

By law, U.S. citizens have a right to privacy about who they vote for. In the era of social networking, many choose not to keep it a secret.

According to a study published today by the Pew Research Center, 22 percent of registered voters have shared on social networks how they marked their ballots. Adults under 50 are more likely to do so, the study said.

Another popular practice is to use Facebook, Twitter or another social network to encourage friends and family to vote for a particular candidate, which 20 percent of voters have done, the study said.

On Twitter, mentions of Obama and Joe Biden had exceeded messages about Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan in most states, according to researchers at the University of Oxford. The Oxford Internet Institute created a colorful interactive map to illustrate Obama’s popularity on Twitter.

As more Americans take their political discourse online, campaigners for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have been targeting social-media sites. Both have engaged in a practice called “brand hijacking,” in which people who search for a candidate’s name on Google or Facebook get ads for his opponent.

Today, Obama is running an ad on Twitter’s “trending topics” section. When people click on it, they’ll find a list of relevant tweets, including this one from Showtime actress Whitney Mixter: “GO VOTE!!! #obama.” She’s in the 20 percent.

(Updates to add Twitter map in the fourth paragraph.)

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