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Getting political on Facebook

11 July, 2007
By Allison Orr

Facebook, the social networking site that primarily targets students and young people, has launched their own politics application that allows users of the site to support their favourite politician and view which politicians their friends support and view profiles of presidential candidates, members of Congress and state governors.  This new application is the first to be developed by the Facebook team that specifically covers politics.  Expanded features will be added in the lead-up to the 08 election, including voter registration tools, political issue forums and candidate profiles for all Presidential, House and Senate candidates.  Currently more than 270,000 users have downloaded the Politics application. 

Politics as a topic of discussion is certainly not new to Facebook, and there are several applications developed by users that are political in content, ranging from the satirical, such as the Bush Presidency Countdown Clock, to the more serious, such as “Vote on the Book”, which claims to "simulate the 2008 Presidential process" by allowing users to vote for their preferred candidate.  The site calculates and displays the updated tally every 5 minutes, and the intention is to "divide our earnings out to the candidates by the percentage of vote they have" (although the site doesn’t make clear how any money is being raised).  Currently, the site is showing Barack Obama and Ron Paul as the respective winners for their parties, with Ron Paul a long way ahead with 57% of the Republican vote.  There are also a few applications for presidential candidates, including one for Obama, Rudy 2008 and Students for Mitt.

About Facebook
Similar to MySpace, Facebook is a site where users can list their interests, collect friends, join and form groups, upload photos, chat with other members and send messages.  It also allows users to create applications which other users can download to show their interests on their profile.  Started by a Harvard University Student in 2004, Facebook now claims to be the sixth most trafficked site in the US and has about 20 million active users.  According to a recent BBC News story, Facebook is becoming as popular in the UK as it is in the US, and if it continues to grow at current rates, will catchup to MySpace by September this year.


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