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Facebook for Friends, Funds

At the moment, Facebook is the big news in online social networking. Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! want a stake in the three-year-old company. All the presidential candidates are actively using it to organize supporters. Ditto members of Congress, from Republicans such as Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.) to Democrats like Rep. Hilda Solis (Calif.).

And why not? Facebook's total membership of 44 million -- 25 million from the U.S. -- is increasing at a rate of three percent each week, with the largest growing segment being users age 25 and up. And like YouTube, MySpace and Eventful, three soc-nets actively reaching out to campaigns and politicians, it's aiming to have an impact in Washington.

Today, Facebook is hosting a couple of two-hour seminars for congressional and campaign staffers at the Hyatt Regency in Capitol Hill. Some 270 staffers have RSVPed, and the flier for the event reads: "Find out what you should doing today to boost your campaigning and fundraising efforts, while connecting with your supporters on a deeper and more personal level."

Facebook politicking is all about political personalization, where Facebookers can "friend" a candidate and stay virtually connected to the his/her campaign. It's also about effectively using applications already on the site, and there are currently 192 political applications -- the Rudy application allows Giuliani's supporters to place a banner on their homepages -- that Facebookers can add to their profiles. A useful application is "2008 U.S. Voter Registration," where Facebookers can receive detailed instructions on how to register to vote in all 50 states, while encouraging their Facebook friends to vote, too. Arguably the most useful application, especially to political junkies, is "US Politics," the hub of profiles of presidential candidates, Congress members and state governors.

"Hopefully by the end of the seminars, the staffers will have a better understanding of how they can use our applications to reach out to voters," said Chris Kelly, who served the Clinton White House and now heads Facebook's political team.

-- Jose Antonio Vargas

By Washington Post Editor  |  October 9, 2007; 11:45 AM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , New Media  
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