In a new development this morning in the battle over Oxford’s referendum on NUS membership, questions have been raised over the overnight increase in Facebook likes on the ‘Yes to NUS Oxford’ campaign’s page.

The page, which as of 17.30 on May 20 had 2,100 likes, gained 1,144 in the week commencing May 16 and over 800 on May 20 alone. As the graph below shows, the majority of that number was gained overnight on the May 19, giving the page a boost of 92 per cent on the previous week’s gain. This amounts to five likes a minute.

Facebook SSResearch by Cherwell found that only 656 people who have liked the page have established countries on their Facebook profiles, according to a social media analytics site, contributing less than 40 per cent of people who have liked the group.

Séan Ó Néill, Yes to NUS social media manager said, “We are as amused as anyone to see these numbers. We’ve contacted the RO and are working out how best to make sure that all our support is as genuine as the support we have from liberation groups, the OUSU President, Target Schools, and so many more.”

The addition of such a number of likes in a short space of time also raises questions about the expenditure of the Yes to NUS campaign, which according to OUSU Standing Orders is capped at £230.

The controversy comes just days after the formal appointment of ‘No Thanks, NUS’ to lead the no vote side and ‘Yes to NUS’ to argue for remaining in the national union.

The appointment of the campaigns marks a two week long campaigning period before the referendum in sixth week.

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