Tag Archives | Politics

Twitter To Sell Political Advertising

With the 2012 campaign expected to cost candidates well over a billion dollars, it’s no surprise that companies that count on advertising are angling to get a slice of that huge pie. Twitter is one of them, and plans to market its advertising services to the campaigns thanks to a key hire of a former political marketing executive from Google.

Twitter told Politico that it plans to sell ads through features such as promoted tweets and trends. At least five campaigns have already signed on to the new offering, including Republican Mitt Romney’s campaign. Twitter declined to specify the other participants.

One thing it will not do is insert ads within user’s timeline, a new advertising option that it has been experimenting with over the past few months. It also plans to differentiate a political ad from a standard one: the ad will carry a small purple checkmark.

You won’t see the standard “I approve this message” tag on tweets. Twitter won’t display them directly with the tweet, however hovering over the tweet would show who purchased the advertising if the campaign decides to disclose it. (It should be obvious anyway, since the ads would direct to a URL or Twitter account where the identity would be disclosed, I’d guess).

I wonder if like TV and radio, Twitter will become a sea of political ads in the days before an election, with the candidates sniping at each other continuously. Let’s hope not.


Smuggle Truck: Tasteless Satire on a Serious Issue

It seems every so often, some developer comes along with the need to produce a mobile app that makes you say, “Dear God, what is wrong with our society?” Enter Smuggle Truck, a proposed gaming app for the iOS and Android platforms which the goal is to smuggle as many illegal immigrants over the US-Mexico border as possible, without killing them.

The app pushes just about every possible stereotype possible: images of a rickety truck packed with people speeding across the desert countryside. Better watch out: drive too recklessly and people may be ejected from the truck bed –maybe even a newborn baby.

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Internet "Kill Switch" Efforts In US on Life Support?

A plan about 16 months in the making to give the President powers to shut down the Internet may have just died an early death thanks to the events in Egypt. According to supporters of the bill, the purpose was to protect US interests from cyberattacks, although critics say it goes too far and could be a threat to free speech.

In Egypt, the Mubarak regime shut down the Internet in the country in an effort to curtail the organization efforts of anti-government protesters. That hasn’t worked too well, and Internet connections were restored in the country this morning. The effort seems to have shone new light on “kill switch” efforts here.

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A Politician’s Facebook Friends a Bellwether of Electoral Success?

Facebook seems to think that if you’re a politician running for political office, the number of friends you have may correlate to your electoral success. In statistics provided by the social networking site on Wednesday, it found that among 98 hotly contested races, in 69 of them the winner also had more friends than the losing candidate.

In the Senate, the correlation appears even more strong: in the 34 races in which a winner had been declared, 28 of them also won the Facebook friends rate. Such evidence may point to the increasing power of social networking when it comes to voter outreach, and more importantly “GOTV” (Get Out The Vote) efforts.

While I used Facebook in my own run for local office — it was such a tiny sample that I can’t really speak from experience that it actually worked to help me win. What I can say is that I certainly believe my online presence — even for a hyperlocal political office like borough councilman — certainly helped me to get the word out.

Either way, in an age where political campaigns are becoming ever more expensive, and probably even more so in the wake of the Citizens United decision, GOTV efforts through social networking become a quick and inexpensive way of getting the word out.

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RIM Facing Government Pressure to Open Up

Press reports indicate that BlackBerry maker RIM seems to be under increasing pressure to open up its encrypted communications from customers to governments, who are increasingly concerned about security. It seems that officials are worried that criminals — and terrorists too — are using the encryption to their advantage since there is no way to monitor transmissions.

The United Arab Emirates were the first to ban the devices, saying it would shut down service in October. The ban would not extend to other devices, since their digital communications pass over the open Internet. Saudi Arabia was next, who is threatening to shut off service this Friday.

Since then the list of countries with similar concerns has grown to include Kuwait, India, Indonesia, and today extended to Lebanon. While none of the countries are yet moving to ban the BlackBerry, all are asking RIM to open up.

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Check Up on Your Congressman… On Facebook

These days, everybody’s on Facebook, including your local Congressman. To highlight the increasing usage in Congress of the social networking site, Facebook has launched a special page listing the more than 300 members that use the site in an official capacity. The site’s hope is this promotion will encourage others to start using the site.

In addition to listing the pages of these members, the page’s wall is filled with stories on how members are using Facebook, as well as highlighting technology legislation that is passing through Congress.

So you may ask, who are the most popular members of Congress? Republican Rep. Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota leads the House with 29,000 fans, while in the Senate Democrats Mark Udall of Colorado and Claire McCaskill of Missouri lead with about 4,000 fans apiece.

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President Obama, iPad Skeptic

As politicians go, President Obama has a reputation as a reasonably tech-savvy guy–or at least one with a deep-seated appreciation for his BlackBerry. But during the commencement speech he gave on Sunday at Hampton University in Virginia, he sounded more like a technophobic old fogy:

You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank that high on the truth meter.  And with iPods and iPads; and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work — (laughter) — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation.  So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.

Class of 2010, this is a period of breathtaking change, like few others in our history.  We can’t stop these changes, but we can channel them, we can shape them, we can adapt to them.

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The High Court's Lack of Tech Knowlege is Troubling

Remember that sexting story I shared with you Monday? Well, our nation’s highest court heard those arguments Tuesday. What we learned from their performance on the bench is that a significant number of them have a very rudimentary understanding–if any at all–of technology.

If this is the case, we should be quite concerned that this court just doesn’t have the knowleddge to accurately rule on what is likely to become an ever-increasingly tech-heavy caseload as high-tech works even further into the fabric of our lives.

Here’s just some of the surprisingly basic questions asked by justices, according to DC Dicta:

Chief Justice John Roberts, who has written out his opinions with pen and paper: “What is the difference between e-mail and a pager?”

Justice Anthony Kennedy, failing to understand the basic concept of a text message: “[If messages are sent simultaneously], does it say: ‘Your call is important to us, and we will get back to you?'”

Justice Antonin Scalia, asking about those sexts: “Could Quon print these spicy little conversations and send them to his buddies?”

If our highest court cannot grasp the most basic concepts of technology, I highly question how they could provide fair judgments on any matter involving tech. This makes me very nervous.

We cannot completely blame the Court for its failings. Most of the justices are over the age of 70. However, at the same time, you need to stay current when you’re in a position to make decisions that affect the entire country.

President Obama is going to have to select a new justice very soon. Let’s hope the one he picks at least knows what e-mail is.