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Facebook Update: Palin Nears a Million Friends; Obama Nears Seven Million

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, November 12 2009

We've been doing some housekeeping on our charts, and wanted to alert you to a few things. First, we've started tracking former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on our Facebook chart looking at likely 2012 presidential candidates. (Any national Republican who felt he or she had to weigh in on last week's special election for that upstate New York seat in Congress is at least thinking about running, we figure.) Let us know if there's anyone else you think we should be tracking.

Second, we had a little hiccup with the Facebook tracking data a few weeks ago, when Facebook changed how it displays friend stats. So that bump you see for everyone around early October isn't a sign of a sudden leap in friends for people like President Barack Obama or former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, it's just our bad for not catching the format change sooner.

Worth noting:

  • Obama and Palin are both nearing newsworthy milestones: the President is within spitting distance of amassing an amazing seven million friends, while former Governor Palin is so close to a million, she can probably see it from her living room.
  • Mitt Romney has had a big spurt in new friends in just the last week, rising more than 10% to 95,000 and change.
  • Tim Pawlenty, who is starting from a much lower base, continues to gain at a healthy pace, rising more than 5% in the last week.
  • As always, these readings have to be taken as digital hints of activist enthusiasm. Since these politicians have all started with different levels of name recognition, national activity and online engagement, these metrics can't quite be compared head-to-head. But the internal changes over time are, nonetheless, often revealing of trends.

    Last bit of housekeeping: we've temporarily taken down our Technorati chart showing blog mentions of top politicians while we await the documentation on their new API. Hopefully that won't be long.