Twitter analysis shows how digital natives respond to Australian democracy

By Melissa Coade

April 12, 2022

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Twitter has published new research showing young voters aged 18-24 consider the online actions of political candidates as extremely important, with 63% saying it would sway their vote. 

This compares to 47% of the general Australian population who reported a politician’s online actions would influence how they voted in the May 21 federal election.

The data was based on more than 2,300 interviews conducted by YouGov with Australian voters, which found 80% of young people were turned off voting for a politician who spread mis- or dis-information online. Other bad behaviours that would sway young voters included participating in online fights (53%) and if a politician were to criticise their opponent on social media (30%).

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has given permission to the social media giant to launch a campaign encouraging younger voters to register to vote. 

The #MyFirstDemocracySausage campaign wants to encourage young people to have their voices heard by exercising their voting rights this May.

According to Kara Hinesley, Twitter’s ANZ public policy director, it was important to promote the political power of first-time voters at the next election.

“The public conversation on Twitter is more important than ever during elections, with research showing more than one-third of young Australians will get the majority of their political information from social media during the election campaign,” Hinesley said. 

Young people surveyed said they would vote for politicians who demonstrated positive online conduct such as encouraging informed and civic debate (30%), demonstrating community impact (29%), and responding to constituents’ requests for help (16%).

Other findings from the research highlighted the importance of climate-change policies for young voters, with one-in-three people aged 18-24 saying it topped the list of critical issues they would be voting for. This was followed by issues concerning the economy and healthcare (including COVID-19). 

AEC data indicates 17.1 million Australians, or 96.5% of the estimated proportion of eligible Australians, to date are enrolled to vote in the upcoming election. The national youth enrollment rate is lower (84.4%), with over 1.2 million people in this age group enrolled to vote.

The AEC’s Evan Ekin-Smyth, a digital engagement director, said people who were 17 years old but turned 18 on or before election day could not enrol to vote online. 

“Even if you’re not a first-time voter, eligible Australians should keep their enrolment up to date before the electoral roll closes,” Ekin-Smyth said. 

“We’re thrilled to see this drive for young Australians to register to vote, share their #MyFirstDemocracySausage experience, and support Twitter’s broader efforts to elevate credible and reliable information on their service during this year’s federal election.”


READ MORE:

Twitter partners with ABS to support ‘healthy’ census conversation

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