While the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections saw the web emerge as a powerful force in political campaigns, the 2008 race harnessed the power of the Internet to an unprecedented degree for fundraising, volunteer coordination, voter recruitment and post-election communication.
In the 2004 election, Newsdesk.org first reported on the emergence of social-networking services as campaign tools, with more tech-savvy candidates embracing the technology.
Today, social media in elections and politics has reached a whole new level, with Change.gov, a website launched by President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, at the forefront.
The site is soliciting feedback and ideas from the American public and will document Obama’s transition to the Presidency, according to the BBC.
The website also lists Obama’s policy priorities, job possibilities in the new administration, and information on the transition itself.
According to the New York Times, social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace equip politicians with massive databases and the ability to email millions of people free of charge.
Social networks and websites like change.gov could increase transparency by explaining complicated policy initiatives, for example.
However, the BBC has found the new website may open new doors for spammers and identity thieves.
“Web helps Obama with transition”
BBC, November 7, 2008
“How Obama tapped into social networks’ power”
The New York Times, November 9, 2008
“If Friendsters Were Voters … Democrats dream of an online gold mine”
Newsdesk.org, September 14, 2004