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Think of it as political dogma.
As Brits head to the Brexit polls to determine the fate of their nation, both sides of the debate are pushing hard to influence any undecided voters, and to encourage people to get out and vote. And now, man’s best friend has been enlisted to support the “rufferendum.”
#DogsAtPollingStations has been trending on Twitter all day, with photos of voters’ dogs in various states of languor or enthrallment as they wait outside polling stations while their masters cast their vote.
Not to be outdone by their canine cousins, cats have also been making their political opinions known on social forums, calling on other kitty crusaders to promote their political positions via the Twitter hashtags #CatsAgainstBrexit and #CatsForBrexit.
Even bots have popped up online to influence the vote. According to a report in New Scientist, researchers found that one-third of Brexit tweets “were generated by just one percent of the 300,000 sampled accounts, which suggests many of these are scripted bots” that could spread “massive amounts of misinformation.”
What's that mean for voters? Don't confuse online chatter with real public opinion.
“To have a healthy democracy, a modern citizen should be aware that their feed is shaped by bots,” Oxford University researcher Philip Howard told the New Scientist.
Social media has been ablaze with Brexit-related hashtaggery for months, but today some new tools were rolled out to publicize voting. Twitter users could unlock a special emoji after posting with the #iVoted hashtag — which celebrities embraced wholeheartedly. Snapchat provided a handy filter that included polling times, as well as an “I Voted” version.
Google's U.K. home page also added a link to a special Google+ informational page that listed polling times and an FAQ about the referendum.
Brits had mixed reactions to the new tools — and some, to the referendum in general.
“Right. Putting my faith in a British public who voted to name a boat "Boaty McBoatface" to make the right choice,” signed off one Twitterer after casting his ballot.