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Os políticos encontram a tecnologia móvel
WHEN Barack Obama used a text message to name his running-mate in 2008, it was a novelty. Now it would seem lame. The new gimmick is “m-campaigning”: reaching voters through their internet-enabled mobile gadgets. Such people are prime fodder for politicians: 83% of Americans who own a smartphone or tablet are registered to vote.
M-campaigning is most advanced in America. To get their man the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney’s people have sent video ads to smartphones. But it has spread to other places. In France Nicolas Sarkozy has just opened a Twitter account (passé by some standards) to help him with his presidential re-election bid. South Korea has lifted a ban on the use of social-networking and mobile messaging for campaigns. And in rural India mobile phones have made local politics more democratic, according to Sirpa Tenhunen of the University of Helsinki. Time was when elders settled disputes, but villagers now take phones to meetings and call in outside help if necessary.
A recent event at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think-tank, highlighted three points about m-campaigning. First, it helps organise activists. When Scott Brown was the Republican candidate for Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat in 2010, his aides used mobile technology to urge followers to phone tricky questions to a radio station while his opponent was on air. Volunteers in Mr Obama’s re-election campaign will use social-media tools so that they can work conveniently from home rather than in a dingy field office.
Mobile technology also makes getting the message out easier. Thanks to location-tracking, potential supporters may receive an automated message urging them to drop in just as they are passing a voter-registration office, or to turn up to a nearby rally. In 2010 Michele Bachmann, a former Republican hopeful, messaged visitors to the Minnesota State Fair, telling them about her opponent’s support for food-tax increases. Smartphones also allow passers-by to scan bar-codes from placards. An app developed by Germany’s Green Party downloads a video when the device’s camera is pointed at billboards in Berlin.
The third area is fund-raising. In America this is trickier for parties than for charities (which use mobile technology a lot) because of campaign-finance rules. But the Obama and Romney teams have developed mobile-donation systems based on Square, a plug-in gizmo that lets smartphones swipe credit cards. Campaign workers can now ask for an immediate donation at a rally, or even on the doorstep—and feed in the donor data required by law.
Practitioners of the political dark arts are using the technology too. They can bombard phones with negative ads or anonymous attacks. Voters in a race in Virginia received robo-texts purporting to be from “concerned parents”, saying that a candidate had voted to allow schools to conceal children’s disciplinary records. Nobody acknowledged sending them.