Originally published in Ka Leo, UH Mānoa’s student-run newspaper – November 3, 2008
TOP 10: POLITICAL SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES (View online at kaleo.org)
With 73 percent of the U.S. population using the internet, presidential candidates must face the challenge of reaching out to voters through various online communities. While much energy is put into streaming videos, candidate Web pages and instant news updates, a new contestant has entered the arena: social networking sites.
Most college students are familiar with sites like Facebook and MySpace, where they can choose to join political groups to share their views and meet others who do the same. But what about a site dedicated to political topics? The potential to reach out to others,share and learn is endless.
Here are the top ten political social networking sites to get you started:
This site is much like a political Facebook. Users have a profile, make friends, receive status updates, create polls and fantasy ballots, chat with others online and head to the local ‘bar corner’ to meet with others from their state. There are photos, videos, podcasts, forums, groups, an events search, blogs, candidate profiles, a list of bills (which you can filter by state and users can comment on) and an “Election 08” section showing charts of campaign expenditures, the number of Myspace & Facebook friends per candidate and a “truthiness” section displaying statements from candidates and their “truth rating.”
The home page is split down the middle – one half blue, one half red – and users write articles for others to read and respond to. Each user has their own profile page from which you can see what articles they have posted. There is a ‘Town Hall’ for people in your area. You can gather constituents and view a “spectrum” of the range of political leanings. 20DC has even started making their own films. There is also an “Action Kit” that displays information and contacts for your state senators and representatives, along with a voting guide and a link to register to vote.
Site users create “resolves,” or statements of ideals; other users can vote for or against them. The site then shows you people who are ideologically similar or different than you. You have a profile page, can join groups, have conversationsand choose friends. It’s a good way to meet people with similar political beliefs.
This is a collective blogging site where each user blogs their opinions on political issues. The site combines them into one large blog viewable on the home page. There is also a “topics” section, displaying opposing articles in a two-column format, and users can vote on the issue by choosingtheir position on a scale (red or blue).
This site revolves around the theme that “all political change starts with defiance of some authority.” It has a forum, blogs, podcasts and groups. There is also a blog called “Don’t tase me, bro!,” self-described as “your one-stop shopping for news on the state of civil liberties and personal freedom.”
There are neat features that are still in the launching stage, with recent political news, blogs, a discussions section, policies, candidate profiles and videos. Each user has a profile with friends, comments, an approval rating, election picks and a recent news wires. Users create posts that others can comment on.
There isn’t much for networking or interacting on this site, but it’s an interesting resource for finding out about candidate’s involvement on the Web. The site is self-described as a “group blog that covers how the 2008 presidential candidates are using the Web.” It displays graphs of candidates’ support on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and other sites, tracking how the support increases and decreases on a weekly basis. There are blogs by their contributors, which registered users can comment on.
This is a hip, multimedia-heavy place for young people to gather and learn about politics. While it’s not a social networking site, it creates a great place for young people to become interested in political issues. Rock the Vote uses popular culture, music and multimedia toencourage young people to register and vote, with pop culture icons like Christina Aguilera to promote them. The site also offers music, videos, wallpapers and ringtones. There are opportunities to getinvolved by joining a street team or downloading an “activist toolkit.”
Members: 29 Videos: 92
This is basically a political YouTube, where users upload election-related videos and view/comment on them.
It’s simple, but it will help someone who doesn’t know where to start. When you join, you fill out a profile on topics that are important to you – candidate’s attributes, social issues, political issues and corebeliefs. The site returns your candidate “best matches” and in what way those candidates meet your specifications, along with links to their Web sites.