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Is the 'Facebook' of Political Campaigns on the Horizon?


"...ties social networks to voter registration and other data to validate voters and connect them to each other and their representatives."

Votizen's front page

Social networks have already changed how we communicate, do business and spread news. In fact, the words Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter have become synonymous with those three concepts, so pervasively are the three websites involved used. And now someone is trying to take the viral, unscripted nature of those sites and apply them to seemingly the most scripted, preplanned enterprise still left on the planet - namely, political campaigns.

Meet David Binetti, the man behind Votizen, a social network for voters that has earned investments from internet giants Sean Parker and Peter Thiel, who infamously provided a lot of the startup power of Facebook.

So what would Votizen do? Business Insider reports:

Votizen ties social networks to voter registration and other data to validate voters and connect them to each other and their representatives. [...]

Right now most elected officials and political candidates communicate with voters via the press, or by advertising, direct mail, robo-calls and other tele-marketing methods.  Not exactly a conversation. Moreover, advocacy groups try to get their message out by generating thousands of letters, emails or calls to politicians’ offices in a practice called astro-turfing that attempts to mimic grass roots movements.

Unsurprisingly, officials don’t pay attention since they know it doesn’t really reflect the views of the voters in their districts. All voters can do is donate money and vote. But with technology and social media, Binetti is changing this pattern in a civically healthy way.

Besides facilitating voters’ communication with elected officials, Votizen helps users find others who are interested in the same issues or urge friends and colleagues to vote for what they believe in, a sort of a LinkedIn for the politically-minded. [...]

Eighteen percent replied to the invitation from the Votizen member, either yay or nay, almost ten times the response or conversion rate of a good direct mail campaign. “We’re trying to create a new channel of communication that is more fundamentally predicated on the size of their network versus the size of their checkbook,” says Binetti.

How politicians will use it is still under development, but it’s a start. Traditional campaigns are terrified of social media because it destroys command and control messaging, In the social media world, messages evolve and morph as they interact with other people and their ideas or priorities—more like conversation.

This last point should give potential users a lot of room to find this sort of concept attractive - the rigid and doggedly meaningless messages that politicians foist on the public could use a dose of internet-style creative destruction. More to the point, Thiel, one of Binetti's major investors, is known for his support for unconventional candidates, such as Texas Representative Ron Paul, suggesting that even as Paul's unpolished and problematic campaign flopped, Votizen could make room for new models of political campaigning that actually involve interactions between politicians and people. Almost no one, aside from paid campaign professionals, would deny that this would be a nice shift.

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