News Corp. execs are hyping what its MySpace will do to the U.S. political process. As reported by TechNewsWorld, MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe said that “As the country’s most trafficked Web site, MySpace will play a powerful role in the upcoming election. Our digital candidate banners will be the yard signs of the 21st Century and our political viral videos and vlogs are the campaign ads of the future.” In discussing its new electoral “Impact Channel,” DeWolfe said it would “empower politicians, nonprofits and civic organizations to connect with MySpace users around the world…”
Missing from such self-serving promotional proclamations is what MySpace intends to charge candidates and campaigns for access. We assume it will eventually impose the same rate charges that big advertisers have to pay for branded profiles. Absent too, is any information about what MySpace will do with all the data it collects from its “Impact Channel” and related political marketing traffic. Will News Corp. make the data available for sale to competing interests, or provide politically favored politicians with special insights about online behavior?
These and many other questions need to be raised and vetted now–by the candidates, MySpace/Fox Interactive/News Corp. and, especially, those who care about the future of U.S. political communications.