Texting and Politics - The World Over

Posted by KatrinVerclas on May 16, 2007

In the United States, the political season is heating up and candidates are jumping on the mobile bandwagon. Hillary Clinton, Democratic presidential candidate, announced "Connect with Hillary" whereby supporters can get regular updates from the campaign via cell phone.  Meanwhile, another competitor for the Democratic seat, Senator John Edwards, is raising money for an ad campaign in the Washington Post, showing the support he garnered for ending the war in Iraq. The ad is here -- and noteworthy is the short code at the bottom of the ad - text "Iraq" to 30644 to show your support to end the war. (Thanks, TechPresident, for the pointer)

This is news for US voters who have not been systematically engaged via mobile phone by candidates for office.  Of course, in other parts of the world, sms and politics is nothing new - candidates and campaigns routinely text their supporters and voters in general, sometimes want it or not. Or answered or not, as in the case of text messages sent to Russian leader Putin in a Q&A session, as reported by textually.org last Fall.

In fact, as has been pointed out elsewhere, sms has become so pervasive a political tool that parties and entrenched regimes have shut down mobile services during elections to prevent the dissemination of campaign messages and get-out-the vote mobilization.  Ethan Zuckerman notes examples of this in his paper on mobile activism.

In the most recent case of a high-profile election that is banning SMS, the " target="_blank">Turkish Daily New reported that the Supreme Election Board is banning political parties from campaigning using sms in the Turkish general election on July 22.  According to the paper,  the Board issued a stringent set of election guidelines, including that "election campaigns will not make use of SMS. In case of infringement, the beneficiaries will be held responsible and legal and criminal proceedings will be launched against them."  


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