When Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation this morning following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, it was impossible not to notice the irony of his situation. In his 2009 data speech, he described the Internet as an “amazing pollinator” that “turns lonely fights into mass campaigns; transforms moans into movements; excites the attention of hundreds, thousands, millions of people and stirs them to action.” This power has now been turned against him, as millions of people were motivated, persuaded and mobilised through the Internet to vote for Brexit. For several months, the Leave camp has been building momentum online and has been setting the tone of the debate across all major social networking platforms. Our large‑scale social media data analysis shows that not only did Brexit supporters have a more powerful and emotional message, but they were also more effective in the use of social media. We find that the campaign to leave had routinely outmuscled its rival, with more vocal and active supporters across almost all social media platforms. This has led to the activation of a greater number of Leave supporters at grassroots level and enabled them to fully dominate platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, influencing swathes of undecided voters who simply didn’t know what to think.
[...] Not only were there twice as many Brexit supporters on Instagram, but they were also five times more active than Remain activists.
“Impact of social media on the outcome of the EU referendum”, Dr. Vyacheslav Polonski, Researcher at University of Oxford, referendumanalysis.eu, 2016.