Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Much Ado About Facebook

Some mocking has been taking place about a Facebook group against Parliament being prorogued.

Much has been made of the numbers as a percentage of Canadians. Well, there's an issue there, this assumes every Canadian is on Facebook. No they are not. That link shows in great detail the activity of Canadians on Facebook.

The most wildly optimistic statistic has 42% of Canadians on Facebook. (Note that 120% of Canadians between 18-24 have accounts, hence the wild optimism.)

According to Facebook, only 50% of Facebook accounts can be considered active. Also note that only 20% of the online population has a Facebook account.

Which means, if we are going to extrapolate Facebook users as a percentage of the population, in one week, somewhere between 0.33% - 0.69% of the Canadian population is "mad" (20% - 42% Facebook activity).

How relevant is this really? Damned if I know. The number of assumptions about this group is quite large. It assumes that people on Facebook pissed about Harper are willing to join groups. It assumes that this is representative of the voting population.

If you assume that only Facebook users over the age of 24 care about politics, and that 50% of those accounts are active, and extrapolate that to the Canadian population, the percentage of Canadians that are "mad" jumps to 1.06%

Is that statistically significant or relevant? I don't know, I'm not a sociologist. However, if we're going to play with numbers, let's use numbers that have a half-assed chance of being accurate eh?

Updater: In the 30 minutes it took to put together this post, the Facebook Group membership count jumped from 46,764 to 47,312. Enough to change the percentages in the calculations above to 0.34, 0.7 and 1.07%.

Assuming the 18 new members per minute holds (not accounting that people sleep overnight), in 24 hours that number could jump to 73,616. If I remember, I will check back in at 21:45 tomorrow. Will we be statistically significant then? Will the journalists linked above retract their snipes? Will I care as much as this blog post indicates but in actuality am not? Tune in! Find out!

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