4/20/2011

So what is the value of Facebook's help to Obama?

Mark Zuckerberg and Chris Hughes had an extremely valuable role in getting Obama elected. Zuckerberg apparently spent a lot of hours working at the Obama campaign. For campaign finance regulations, how is the government supposed to value these contributions? From InventorSpot.com:

So was social networking responsible for Obama's successful political campaign? . . .

According to Fast Company, Hughes' key tool was My.BarackObama.com, or MyBO for short, a surprisingly intuitive and fun-to-use networking Web site that allowed Obama supporters to create groups, plan events, raise funds, download tools, and connect with one another -- not unlike a more focused, activist Facebook. MyBO also let the campaign reach its most passionate supporters cheaply and effectively. By the time the campaign was over, volunteers had created more than 2 million profiles on the site, planned 200,000 offline events, formed 35,000 groups, posted 400,000 blogs, and raised $30 million on 70,000 personal fund-raising pages.

All now agree, that is was because of the MyBarackObama.com site the tides turned in Barack Obama's favor. Raising more than $500 million through average donations of under $100, in addition to mobilizing new voters was the major tipping point for Obama's victory. . . .


The entire Fast Company story is available here and it is worth reading.

So if Facebook helps out Obama in this campaign, is that a campaign contribution? Can companies just hold mass meetings for candidates? How is providing Facebook access any different than providing a campaign plane to meet voters? Will Facebook be as favorable to Republican presidential candidates as they are to Obama? Is Facebook a media outlet like a newspaper or just another company?

President Barack Obama and Facebook both have a lot to gain when he holds a town hall meeting at the company’s Palo Alto headquarters Wednesday.

Obama can burnish his high-tech, “win the future” image by tying himself to Facebook ahead of the 2012 campaign. And Facebook can signal that it’s a serious player on the national stage by hosting the president ahead of a much-expected IPO. . . .

Facebook is downplaying the partisan aspects of Obama’s visit Wednesday. In a statement, a Facebook spokesman said: “We’re honored that President Obama will be visiting Facebook next week and will be using our platform to communicate directly with an international audience. More broadly, we’re heartened that political figures are using Facebook to organize and reach people in a direct, personal, simple way that was unimaginable a decade ago.” . . .

But the company isn’t blind to political reality — and it has shown some sensitivity to the notion that it’s taking sides. . . .

Obama used Facebook in his 2008 campaign with the help of a Facebook co-founder who took a leave of absence to join the campaign. Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg, who used to be at Google, sits on the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. In February, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg ditched his hoodie for a necktie and had dinner with Obama and other Valley leaders at the home of venture capitalist John Doerr. . . .

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1 Comments:

Blogger TooMuchTime said...

This is very similar to the payola scandal in the 50s. Pat Boone made a good point about it. If a music company executive takes a radio company executive to lunch and pays for it, is that payola?

There needs to be a well defined dividing line between what is and what is not a campaign contribution. Unfortunately, this looks like a court will have to decide the issue which means no one will be happy.

4/20/2011 12:02 PM  

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