A new, social media-based platform, Votizen, is trying to bring peer-to-peer political interaction online. It goes through your Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter account to bring your profile onto the site. I chose to use my Facebook, which is where I interact with the most friends online. A list of my United States-based friends appeared, including any party or candidate affiliation, as well as, their voting record. Of course, the majority of my friends had none of these, which isn’t to say that my friends are politically inept, just that people are still private about their political preferences. As I went through the list of my friends, it was interesting to see who had listed themselves as Republicans or Democrats. However, the information was often times inaccurate because changing party affiliation on your social media site probably isn’t at the top of everyone’s agenda (searching for the perfect cover photo, though…). You can also go through the various elections that your friends have the chance to vote in, including state elections, which is where peer influence comes into play. Votizen also promotes campaign participation through online media. It allows you and your friends that share similar ideologies and political fervor to pull together to campaign for a candidate or cause.
It’s a clever idea, taking the middle man out of politics, promoting “voter-to-voter connections” as a way to reduce “the influence of money and increase the importance of relationships in civic engagement”. But going through and trying a mock-campaign (everything but actually rallying my friends), I realized, I’m uncomfortable doing this. Granted, I may be funny about politics, because I believe that there is a time and place for these kinds of discussions. I may post politically biased articles on my facebook that I agree with, but I would never try to make my friends post those same articles to spread the word. Those people that are very into campaigning and spreading their political beliefs are probably already doing it in the physical world. While Votizen may help expand their message into the digital realm, it is not the end-all, be-all of political canvassing.
In order to bring success and attention to their site, Votizen will have to connect with people that are already involved with political campaigning and looking to bring it to another level. It’s difficult to say if this will catch on since young people, a very active community in social media, are dwindling in political participation on the whole. Overall, the site was interesting to use to find out where your friends fall on the ideological scale, but I think the old fashioned method of person-to-person campaigning carries more weight and will prove to be more successful.