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Politics

Aug 13, 2007

Web 2.0 pollies: no polls, just popularity

Last week was a busy one for the IT staff working for the Labor and Liberal parties. Last Tuesday's launch of "Kevin 07" had only just left the headlines before the PM went to YouTube to appeal to 18-24 year olds to consider spending their gap year working for the ADF.

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Last week was a busy one for the IT staff working for the Labor and Liberal parties. Last Tuesday’s launch of “Kevin 07” had only just left the headlines before the PM went to YouTube to appeal to 18-24 year olds to consider spending their gap year working for the ADF.

Then Howard and Rudd delved further into the world of web 2.0 with the Christian voter in mind. The Federal Election 2007: Make it Count debate for the Australian Christian Lobby was webcast in 627 locations across the country, hosted by registered Christian churches.

It was just another display of a desire to be seen as net savvy. The fear of dismissing easy access to younger voters has seen both major political parties embrace MySpace and Facebook in recent months, raising the bar of cyber-hipness with each turn.

To coincide with the launch of “Kevin 07”, Rudd’s MySpace underwent a complete “pimp out”, and now allows visitors to sign up for their own “KMail” and download wallpaper for their mobiles.

By contrast, the Liberal Party’s official MySpace (the PM has declined to have his own) doesn’t even make use of the stock-standard background music feature. Joe Hockey’s MySpace, on the other hand, plays “Black Fingernails, Red Wine” by Eskimo Joe.

And it appears in Australian politics MySpace is getting all the action. Despite membership growing 273 per cent over the past four months, rival social networking site Facebook just doesn’t seem to accommodate for Australian politicians the way it does for those in the US.

One reason may be because US politicians are given a “Supporters” component on their profile allowing people to add themselves to the list without necessarily becoming a “Friend” of the politician, such as on Barack Obama’s Facebook. This feature is not yet available to Australian politicians, so Facebook users have been showing their support by adding Kevin as a “Friend”. The problem for Kevin Rudd is that the number of “Friends” allowed to a single Facebook profile is capped at 5000. But don’t despair, Kevin assures his aspiring “Friends” that he’s been discussing the issue with Facebook administration.

Meanwhile, Crikey has selected eight of the top politicians in the country and tallied the number of Facebook and MySpace friends each has on their official profiles. Out of the eight, National Party Leader Mark Vaile and Federal Treasurer Peter Costello are the only two yet to become web 2.0. All the others had at least a MySpace profile (and several fake satirical versions), except Rudd and Democrats Leader Lyn Allison who had both.

Each week we will be monitoring the number of “Friends” or “Supporters” on each profile and diligently updating the tally. Just something to keep your eye on as we lead up to that mystery election date.

12.42am 09/08/07

MySpace Friends

Facebook Friends

John Howard (The Liberal Party)

9

Peter Costello

Kevin Rudd

12449

5000+

Julia Gillard

1972

Bob Brown

1163

Steve Fielding

91

Mark Vaile

Lyn Allison

103

26

Log on to www.facebook.com and become Crikey Dotcomdotau’s Facebook friend

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