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Killer Political Apps

BY Alan Rosenblatt | Thursday, May 24 2007

Reacting quickly to Facebook.com’s newly launched open API, the Obama campaign is the first of the presidentials to take advantage of the opportunity. Basically, anyone can develop an application that can be installed into your Facebook profile. So, just as you can use default Facebook applications like send a message or poke a friend, these new applications become another application on your Facebook homepage and interiror pages.

The Obama application can be used by a Facebook member to quickly see what is new with the campaign (video, messages, etc.) and forward these to their Facebook friends who live in the early primary states: NH, IA, NV, and SC. They can easily use this feature to share campaign videos and messages with their own friends out there, beyond the members of the Obama community. In other word, it makes spreading the campaign's message by virtual word-of-mouth that much easier.

While Obama is the first to launch a new Facebook application, the other campaigns cannot be far behind. Facebook made this feature public earlier this week and stories have already appeared in the Wall Street Journal and on several blogs (PGreenblog and Mashable, among others). The campaigns were all notified, as well. What they will do with it seems only limited by their imagination and their ability to find good programmers.

These new applications, together with tools already available on Facebook, MySpace, Care2.com Change.org, and other social networks, including those on the candidate sites themselves (i.e. Obama, Richardson, and McCain ) put even more opportunities for voters to organize their friends, family, and communities than they had in 2004, when MeetUp swept through the political campaigns. The potential for these tools to create a whole new dynamic in the race for the White House is extraordinary. What used to be the domain of professional organizers and zealous volunteers is now also in the hands of anyone with a penchant for networking online. And with tens of millions of voters on these social networks, our expectations for voter awareness, activity, and turnout might be turned on their heads in this and future elections.