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Why Facebook's 'Voter Megaphone' Is the Real Manipulation to Worry About

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, July 3 2014

Two years ago, on the morning of the 2012 election in the United States, I got an email with an urgent subject line: "You should write the story of how Facebook blew an opportunity to turn out 300k voters." The sender, a veteran progressive online activist who would prefer to remain anonymous, was upset for good reason. The election was bound to be close, and as of 10am that morning he hadn't yet seen an "I'm Voting" button on his Facebook page, nor had another colleague of his. Nor was one on my own Facebook page. Given that when Facebook deployed a similar "I Voted" button in 2010, and added messages in users' News Feeds showing them the names and faces of friends who had said they voted, the cumulative effect boosted turnout then by at least 340,000 votes, these activists had good reason to be concerned. Facebook had announced that it was going to do the same thing in 2012, and this time around its American user base had grown enormously, from 61 million to more than 160 million. A social and visible nudge like an "I 'm Voting" button had the potential to measurably increase turnout, even more so as Facebook was including a useful tool to help people find their polling places. And yet on Election Day 2012 its deployment was far from universal. Facebook was conducting research on us. Read More

Official Election Sources Don't Give Voters What They Want, Study Finds

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, April 3 2013

L.A. County Elections Website

A recently released study of election websites concludes that where site design is concerned, elections officials are from Mars and voters are from Venus. Read More

Young Republicans Are Concerned About Leadership, Not How Their Leaders Tweet

BY Nick Judd | Monday, February 25 2013

Top Romney for America strategist Stuart Stevens raised a straw man Sunday in a Washington Post op-ed that attacks "young, technology-focused Republican operatives who feel that the Republican Party should be doing more (which we should) and that, horrors of horrors, I chose not to tweet during the campaign. (For the record, I’ve had a Twitter account since shortly after the service launched and follow it perhaps a bit too obsessively.)"

His unrepentant reply does little to bridge a growing generational rift in the GOP.

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For Tea Party Groups, That "Digital Gap" With Democrats Doesn't Seem As Wide

BY Matt Taylor | Tuesday, January 29 2013

Tea Party groups used their own software to support Republican Sen. Ted Cruz's primary campaign in Texas. Photo: Gage Skidmore

Given FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey's tumultuous exit from the organization he helped found, a Republican Party now casting about for solutions to its electoral troubles could be forgiven for passing over Tea Party advice on organizational structure. But if grassroots conservatives have technology tips to share, GOP insiders looking for an upgrade might want to lend an ear. Read More

Obama's Targeted GOTV On Facebook Reached 5 Million Voters, Goff Says

BY Nick Judd | Friday, November 30 2012

The president's re-election campaign used targeted person-to-person contact on Facebook to reach five million voters, many of whom were the focus of an effort to reach 18-to-29-year-old voters who not be reached by phone, Obama for America Digital Director Teddy Goff said Friday. Read More

As Election Nears, Mormon Democrats a Newly Significant Voice Online

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, November 5 2012

No matter who wins the election Tuesday, the campaign has helped establish an online voice for a population with a unique perspective in this election -- self-described Mormon Democrats and supporters of Obama. Read More

Will the NRCC Declare Its Love for Nancy Pelosi on a Mobile Billboard Outside her Office?

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, October 18 2012

The National Republican Congressional Committee is asking its supporters to propose messages to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that the committee plans to display on a mobile billboard to be driven around the speaker's San Francisco office.

The message shared the most by email or Twitter wins.

In first place: "You have to spend your retirement fund to find out how much is in it."

In second place: "We love you, Nancy. We need you as speaker."

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Small Screens, Thick Fingers, Can't Lose?

BY Nick Judd | Friday, October 12 2012

Faced with a sudden rash of "likes" for Romney from people who say they don't really like Romney, Mother Jones asked Facebook for help figuring out what was going on. The social network's response: Users are "probably liking the Romney page on a mobile device by either accidentally clicking on a Romney ad or a 'sponsored story' from the Romney campaign in their news feed." Read More

ActBlue Hits $300 Million Mark; Shows Potential of Small Donors

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, September 28 2012

Throwing the money on the table. Photo: Flickr

Yesterday, ActBlue, the organization that encourages the raising of small donations online for Democratic candidates, reached a threshold of $300 million total raised since its start in 2004. These small donors can make a difference even in the face of the large third party expenditure groups on the other side, according to Michael Malbin, executive director of the Campaign Finance Institute, especially when they add up in competitive races. Read More

More Ways to Watch the Conventions and Elections Online

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, August 23 2012

CNN/Time Floorpass App

More news organizations and technology companies announced election related online services today, as CNN and Time launched their Convention Floor Pass app, and Microsoft announced its Election 2012 Hub on Xbox Live.

Social media becomes more entwined with daily life all the time, so it's easy to call this year's conventions the "most social ever." The efforts outlined so far are long on things to watch while short on ways to meaningfully participate — although given the nature of the conventions, which many big-name politicians are not attending, that might have less to do with the applications and more to do with the events they've been built to augment.

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News Briefs

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In China, Local Governments Play Whac-a-Mole With Taxi Apps

It seems these days that car-hailing apps exist only to give cities grief. In New York, car sharing start-ups like Lyft ignore labor, safety insurance laws and in China, the situation is no different except in one regard: taxi hailing apps in China are proliferating at a faster rate than in the U.S. In China, however, the taxi system is very much in its infancy and local Chinese governments are struggling to control the proliferation of new apps that flout the law. GO

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The Uncertain Future of India's Plan to Biometrically Identify Everyone

Since its launch in 2010, people in India have raised a number of questions and concerns about the Aadhaar card —formally known as Unique Identification (UID)— citing its effects on privacy rights, potential security flaws, and failures in functionality. GO

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