Monday, October 14, 2013

Fwd: [DW] Minneapolis Mayoral campaign moves from lawn signs to Facebook ...

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Steven Clift" <>
Date: Oct 12, 2013 9:53 AM
Subject: [DW] Minneapolis Mayoral campaign moves from lawn signs to Facebook ...
To: <>

Or something like that ...

Dynamics of Minneapolis mayoral race unprecedented on many levels


Ranked-choice voting has prompted few candidates attacks. And there
are more debates and forums, fewer lawn signs — and extensive use of
social media.


It is highly instructive if you spend some time exploring the
candidates use of social media from:

When the Minneapolis Issues Forum was the only online civic
conversation in town over a decade ago, we saw far more leading
candidate activity there - - In fact, the
current 3 term Mayor, RT Rybak credited his forum experience as a
major factor in his decision to run and announced his candidiacy on
the forum before he did it at a press conference. He told me that many
of his initial volunteers came from the forum. My view - in
competitive races, candidates will experiment. This is the first
highly competitive race for Mayor since 2001. And this cycle, Facebook
is a key "place."

Fast forward to this comment in the article by a Prof at St. Thomas:

This year, many of the 35 candidates have not held any news
conferences, or perhaps only one, probably to announce their

"They can't control the news conference as much as they can control
their own message through social media," notes Sauter. "Maybe this is
the harbinger of things to come where politicians are not going to use
the filtering device of the traditional media and try to shape and
control the message completely through social media."


And this is what I sense - candidates are given a fair amount of
control over the online spaces they host themselves (compared to our
forums where critics can reply with a megaphone) and with Facebook
advertising they can build up Likes that in theory give the candidates
increased access to more people.

So here are some candidates for Mayor, and Facebook likes:

Hodges - 3390
Winton - 3490
Andrew - 2855
Samuels - 881
Woodruff - 843
Cherryhomes - 559
Mann - 448
Cohen - 345
Hanna - 214

(You can find their pages from )

In a city approaching 400,000 people (3.5 million in full metro), are
these big numbers? I am not sure. I don't have the exact number, but I
believe the current not running Mayor has over 20,000 addresses on his
official email newsletter. (Which was a legally public list until the
legislature quietly changed the law last year ... IMHO cementing an
incumbent advantage with the use of government communication channels
while also in theory removing the risk of commercial reuse of
government email lists. Of course here we have no incumbent

However, if you look at the image from the web page, it is actually
showing you "friend" requests from the personal accounts of
candidates. THAT is actually where local politics is going. Candidate
and elected officials are taking their semi-private interpersonal
relationships and converting them into semi-private online group

The current Mayor laments the fact that Facebook limits you to 5,000
friends. So if you want to be connected to power, you better become
their Facebook friend before they max out.

So, what I actually see is a troubling trend where the most engaged
from political and community activists to lobbyists to civil servants
are becoming hyper-connected in more PRIVATE connections.

I think like all Facebook users we get confused about what is public
and what is private that we post and when it comes to elected
officials they get confused as well.

I should note that many of the local political leaders are are my
friends on Facebook too. Once you are connected to enough political
types, Facebook recommends over and over again that you might know
people with with mutual friends and the political networkers just
start friending each other. (One thing to note for example - Andrew
has 1654 friends, 208 mutual with me, Hodges has 4960 friends and 311
mutual ... fyi RT Rybak's personal page shows 9,000+ "followers" which
is a feature that allows people to just follow you public personal
profile posts. - See - ... I
just turned this on for myself:
and I don't know that many candidates have turned this on. I would if
I were them.)

So, while Facebook might be great for networked campaigning, what
happens when the election is over? Will this same network broaden who
is involved in local democracy or will it is actually make
participation for everyday people and in particular less heard diverse
voices in the community harder? I see many people with power turn away
from more open engagement online and find it more comfortable with
their "friends" or people who "like" or "follow" them. So, while
Minneapolis is in its first "Facebook election" and in 2001 it had its
first "Internet election," I don't know that after the votes are
counted that governance will be more open, improved, or engaging
beyond those reached online in the election. Something to watch,
adjust, change ...

Oh, the REAL story online this election is the use of Facebook GROUPS
by Abdi Warsame - - a
candidate for City Council with 2583 members. See:
 Only the incumbent sole Green council member Cam Gordon has a public
Facebook Group. If you really want a to use Facebook as a two-way
engine for supporter involvement, the Group frame is 10x more
democratizing than a more PR messaging oriented Facebook PAGE.

Steven Clift

P.S. It is very interesting to note which candidates have responded so
far to the Open Government survey out there by Open Twin Cities
(disclosure - I assisted with the questions):
- 3 of the so called "top" 8 candidates for Mayor (9 others did too)
have responded so far and there is no relation between their more
successful use of social media and an embrace of open government. With
council candidates we even have an unchallenged incumbent who replied.
I can personally say this is directly impacting how I personally view
the candidates, but how many "open government" swing voters are there
out there. :-)  My concern going back to EVERY election cycle since
1994 when I helped create the first election info website is that 99%
of those gaining power with our votes by engaging online essentially
turn-off the use of these tools to deeply engage the public two-way in
governance AND now with Facebook private life connections, I see more
and more in-crowd e-connecting actually making local democracy less
democratic and accessible.

Steven Clift -
  Executive Director -
  Tel/Text: +1.612.234.7072

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