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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

[BackChannel] Don't Confuse Number of Facebook Fans with Success: Mitt Romney, Herman Cain and Rick Perry

BY Alan Rosenblatt | Tuesday, October 11 2011

Editor's note: With Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain and the rest of the Republican field set to meet tonight for the Bloomberg/Washington Post debate, now is the perfect time to inaugurate Backchannel, what we hope ... Read More

How to Value a MySpace Mega-Group

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, May 3 2007

One of the underlying issues raised by Obama's MySpace Mess is just what it takes to build a mega-group on a big social networking site, and how to value that work. I want to get into that here. Read More