Facebook now has an open API, which means that anyone can build a small application that a Facebook user can add to their Facebook interface and that uses their connections. TechPresident reports that Barack Obama is the first politician to make use of this in their Obama application, so of course I signed up to see how it works. And sure, I support Obama, I think – my coming in-laws (only eight days till the wedding!) are Chicago Democrats, and Obama’s done a good job as Senator for Illinois for years. My coming brother-in-law even had him as a law school professor. So I’ve heard a lot of good things about Obama, though admittedly I’m neither American nor extremely well-versed in US politics. I mean, I haven’t even considered, say, John Edwards’ politics, I’ve just decided I want a woman or an African American as president of the United States. But anyway, that’s good enough reason to try out the first political Facebook application, don’t ya think?

When I signed up, this is what Facebook said:

add Obama?Add friends in early states

So immediately it leverages the main currency of Facebook: your friends. I had no idea I had a friend in an early state – turns out Michael Faris, whom I know from his blog Farism, is in an early state. [Note for non-Americans: early states are the first states to vote in the primaries, where everyone registered as a Democrat gets to vote about whether Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards or someone else gets to be the Democrat’s presidential candidate. And the same for the Republicans. The early states pretty much decide the whole primaries as other tend to follow their lead.] Poor Michael, I bet he’ll be getting lots of nagging comments from people who want him to vote Obama…

My friend in an early state

There’s a prewritten message for me that’s all ready to go if I click the “Message Michael about Obama” button:


Since you’re from Iowa, you’re probably hearing a lot about the presidential race these days. But I just wanted to tell you how much I support Barack Obama. You should take a second to check out the Iowa campaign’s website: http://iowa.barackobama.com

I also just added the Obama application to my Facebook profile. If you want, you can add it to your profile too by clicking here: http://facebook.barackobama.com

Talk to you soon,


What else does the application do? Well, my friends will all see that I added “Obama”. I see Obama added to my “Applications” menu, and if I click that link, I get a page telling me about my one friend in an early state and showing recent news and videos from the campaign.And reading about it, it looks as though it might automatically post news about Obama to my profile, which all my friends would then see in their feeds from all their friends.

I’m going to leave the application in for a few days to see what it does before maybe removing it. It’s an interesting concept – and it’ll be interesting to see whether this works because it’s first and therefore cool. I’m thinking that Facebook could easily become sort of littered by way too many such applications.

7 thoughts on “obama releases first political facebook application

  1. Gro

    hi jill, bunad is finally in box! an agderbunad
    (do i betray finnmark now?) anyway, looking forward to next saturday!

  2. Jill

    Oh awesome, I’m impressed! Hooray!

  3. Michael Faris

    What’s interesting is that I don’t live in Iowa any more (I moved to Oregon two years ago) ñ that’s just where I’m from. I haven’t received any messages from Obama-supporting friends back in Iowa (or elsewhere) yet, so we’ll see if I do later.

  4. Jamie

    Hi Jill,
    the app is interesting but if you are seriousl about supporting
    Obamah, I can find an interview from Democracy Now about him that is ummm less than flattering.
    I’m certain that they hate Rodham Clinton even more butObamah is no gem either.

  5. Jill

    Interesting – so Facebook isn’t actually finding your current residence – or did you originally register as living in Iowa, so that that’s where Facebook thinks you live? Iowa must be in its system somehow…

    Jamie, I know it’s easy to find either flattering or unflattering info about ANY political candidate. As I’m not a US citizen or resident and so obviously not voting in the US elections there’s not much point in trying to convince me either way, though.

  6. Michael Faris

    I signed up for Facebook after moving out here, so I think it’s that it registers Iowa as my hometown (which I listed). So the application must search for both current residences and hometowns when listing friends in early states.

  7. […] Obama’s first Facebook application successfully used the tool to promote his campaign and educate people around issues related to the election, as well as bringing like minded people into the election campaign.¬† […]

Leave A Comment

Recommended Posts

Triple book talk: Watch James Dobson, Jussi Parikka and me discuss our 2023 books

Thanks to everyone who came to the triple book talk of three recent books on machine vision by James Dobson, Jussi Parikka and me, and thanks for excellent questions. Several people have emailed to asked if we recorded it, and yes we did! Here you go! James and Jussi’s books […]

Image on a black background of a human hand holding a graphic showing the word AI with a blue circuit board pattern inside surrounded by blurred blue and yellow dots and a concentric circular blue design.
AI and algorithmic culture Machine Vision

Four visual registers for imaginaries of machine vision

I’m thrilled to announce another publication from our European Research Council (ERC)-funded research project on Machine Vision: Gabriele de Setaand Anya Shchetvina‘s paper analysing how Chinese AI companies visually present machine vision technologies. They find that the Chinese machine vision imaginary is global, blue and competitive.  De Seta, Gabriele, and Anya Shchetvina. “Imagining Machine […]

Do people flock to talks about ChatGPT because they are scared?

Whenever I give talks about ChatGPT and LLMs, whether to ninth graders, businesses or journalists, I meet people who are hungry for information, who really want to understand this new technology. I’ve interpreted this as interest and a need to understand – but yesterday, Eirik Solheim said that every time […]