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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Politics 2.0: Politicians' Campaigns Invade MySpace

USA Today reports

Candidates are using popular websites Facebook, MySpace and YouTube for the first time to give their campaigns free publicity, reach young voters and bypass traditional media. Once they're online, though, they risk being mocked and losing control of their messages. created 1,400 candidate profiles that listed names, states, parties and offices. Of those, about 300 are updated by candidates or their staffs, marketing director Melanie Deitch says.

What's online can be embarrassing:

• Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's Facebook profile has many posts from her Green Party rival, Howie Hawkins, who lists reasons he thinks the New York Democrat should be defeated.

• A Facebook search for "Mike DeWine" turns up the Ohio Republican senator's profile as well as links to several self-organized political groups of Facebook members. One group calls itself "Mike Dewine and (Ohio Rep.) Deborah Pryce are tools," a derisive slang for dupes.

• In an ad only on YouTube and Republican congressional candidate Paul Nelson's campaign website, Nelson says Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., voted to fund studies of "the sex lives of Vietnamese prostitutes." Matt Sweeney, Kind's campaign manager, says voters will "see through these kinds of sleaze ads."

The power of the sites was highlighted this summer when video of Sen. George Allen, R-Va., calling a rival's volunteer "macaca" showed up on YouTube. It has been seen more than 250,000 times. YouTube has more than 30 million visitors a month.

Campaigns are still finding ways to tap the sites' potential, says Democratic strategist Chris Lehane, who predicts they "will ultimately revolutionize politics."

About 1 million of Facebook's 10 million regular users read politics features, Deitch says. That's an opportunity to reach young voters. In the 2004 election, 17% of voters were 18-29.

MySpace, with 56 million visitors a month, had "a huge uptick" this year in political activity, says spokesman Jeff Berman. "When you can reach people that quickly, that effectively and at no cost, it's just a no-brainer," he says.

1 comment:

Wulf said...

Wow, that USA Today... you can't stop them from learning about the latest trends only a few months after the rest of us.