4/9/2010 9:20:00 AM
Election: Facebook more sexy than mobile operators
It is a sign of the times that the Electoral Commission has turned to Facebook (rather than mobile operators) to revive interest in this election.
An announcement went out today that first-time voters will be bugged with a message exhorting them to register to vote whenever when they log in to Faceobook.
Now I have only seen a couple of screen grabs on the early morning news, but I don't see this producing much of to pluck us from the jaws of apathy and save us from the lowest ever election turnout. Only those youngsters with some kind of political interest or civic conscience are likely to be motivated by this approach, while most will likely press on to their horoscope or quiz of the day.
Compare this scenario to a few years ago, when mobile service were seen as the the great hope for our creaking democratic process. Remember all those warm, notions of getting us to vote via SMS? Undoubtedly that would have produced a higher electoral response (you can't really call armchair voting 'turnout').
The fad with the Facebook perhaps shows how mobile operators are no longer seen as quite up there where it is at. Maybe SMS was ditched because of impracticalities (or maybe it required a bit more work than the gimmick of a simple login message). Still, I can’t help thinking the authorities have backed the wrong horse.
Facebook is notoriously poor at diverting or channelling its hordes into something more productive than trivia-sharing. The failure of advertising on the site bears witness to this. Meanwhile, how many people were easily seduced to vote for X-Factor final, or Strictly via SMS? Problem solved, surely.
Some may complain that this would reduce politics to the level of a cheap game show. Then again, others might reflect politics has already done this all by itself. And don’t you agree, … there is nothing quite as sad as a pantomime where the audience doesn't join in?