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It Is Your
Father's Facebook

Tricks are for kids, or the saying goes. And the conventional wisdom in Washington is MySpace and Facebook are only for the youngin's.

Except not anymore.

At least according to a new study by the Global Market Insite (GMI), a Seattle-based market research firm. GMI surveyed more than 2,100 consumers online age 14 and above, many of whom have visited a candidate's MySpace profile and Facebook group in recent months. GMI found that 62 percent of these visitors are age 30 and over. Yes, MySpace and Facebook, two of the most popular social networking sites among high schoolers and college students, are increasingly attracting new users in their 20s and 30s. And many of those users are going online to read about the the presidential contenders. At last count, thanks to the group blog, Sen. Barack Obama leads in both the number of Facebook supporters (130,019) and MySpace friends (165,864). On Obama's MySpace profile, one of his newest friends is 30-year-old Haile Rivera from the Bronx.

Jeff Berman, a spokesman for MySpace, told us that 85 percent of MySpacers are of voting age. Facebook spokeswoman Brandee Barker, meanwhile, said that Facebookers age 25 and over are Facebook's fastest growing segment. (By the way, to help differentiate between the two, think of Facebook as D.C. A little cliquish, all about networking, who-you-know. MySpace, on the other hand, is more like Los Angeles. Sprawling, anything goes, somewhat out of control.)

Whatever you think of these sites -- and how specific candidates such as John Edwards, who seems to be on every social networking site imaginable, are employing them--no doubt they "represent an exponential shift in the way people decide to support a particular candidate or political point of view," said Andrew Rasiej, co-founder of TechPresident. "The conversations about politics that used to happen around water coolers, dining room tables, or over the back fence, are now on steroids because social networks amplify and present opinion so effectively."

But how all this online activism translate to actual votes come election day is anybody's guess.

-- Jose Antonio Vargas

By Washington Post editors  |  August 16, 2007; 11:34 AM ET
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