WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (June 25-July 1, 2012)

ADVOCACY & POLITICS

Conservative Super Pacs turn to social media and internet to expand reach; Facebook, Twitter and Google employ teams to work directly with Super Pacs to target key swing state voters online.” By Ed Pilkington and Amanda Michel. Guardian. June 29, 2012. Right-wing Super Pacs, the partisan groups seeking to evict Barack Obama from the White House through a massive injection of private cash, have begun to invest in social media and internet-based advertising in the hope of further amplifying their impact. With the presidential election four months away, the Super Pacs are beginning to turn their attention towards newer digital technologies that allow political campaigns to tightly target their messages to key voters in the swing states. Facebook, Twitter and Google are all now employing dedicated teams to work directly with the Super Pacs in an attempt to help them build internet presence. Google has three separate teams of skilled political campaigners working on the 2012 election – one liases with the Democratic campaigns, one with Republicans, and the third works with what it calls “independent expenditure groups”, largely the Super Pacs. They operate a strict firewall, Google says, between the independent expenditure team and the other two, in line with campaign finance laws that bar Super Pacs from co-ordinating directly with political candidates or parties. Within Super Pacs, the fastest growing appear to be those on the political right. That’s in tune with the overall landscape of the 2012 election in which Republican Super Pacs, backed by a handful of billionaire donors, have managed to raise vastly more money than their Democratic equivalents. By some calculations, these conservative outliers may amass more than $1bn by election day. Most of that is being spent on traditional negative advertising on television, but a growing proportion is being redirected to online outlets.

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