October 18th, 2010
07:16 PM ET
12 years ago

Candidates turn to Facebook games as campaign tactic to collect information

(CNN) - Collecting data on likely voters is not all fun and games, but candidates are creating games on Facebook to collect constituent's e-mails and critical information.

"Facebook games are absolutely underrated in the political space," said Vincent Harris, the CEO of Harris Media, a digital advocacy firm that creates Facebook games for the campaigns. "While users are spending hours a day on Facebook, gaming allows them another medium to interact with and learn about candidates while the campaign is collecting critical data points on the user."

"We are capturing names and e-mails (and other data is available) on every user, information that is critical to running a successful online campaign," Harris wrote to CNN in an e-mail.

Jim Keet, running for the Governor of Arkansas against incumbent Gov. Mike Beebe launched a Facebook game called "Big Spending Beebe." The game is a parody of the Price is Right, and has Governor Beebe as a contestant. The user is asked to bid on items that he has purchased as Governor, such as "What did the taxpayers spend on Gov. Beebe's new King Air jet?" The user finds out the correct bid after entering their bid. At the end users are asked to invite their friends to play the game, and a note with a link is published to the user's newsfeed telling their friends that they "just played the game."

When users sign up to play the game, they are notified that the campaign will take their "basic information," which includes the users name, profile picture, gender, networks, user ID, list of friends, and "any other information I've shared with everyone." In order to play, the user must also give the campaign permission to send e-emails and allow the campaign permission to "post status messages, notes, photos, and videos" to the user's Facebook wall.

Another Facebook game was created by Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott's campaign called "Rick Scott Card Game." In this game the user has the ability to pick and order their preferred job-creating solutions from Rick Scott's "7-7-7 jobs plan." Users can drag and drop cards, which display the seven points of his plan, and rank which points they like better. A simple game that allows users to know what Scott's job creating policies are, while the campaign simultaneously receives feedback about what parts of the plan are most popular.

In the Vermont Governor's race, current lieutenant governor Brian Dubie has created a Facebook game of Three Card Monty. A campaign sticker or yard sign is placed under a virtual cup and the player needs to choose where the sticker or sign is after being shuffled. If the Facebook user wins, they are sent the yard sign or sticker.

Facebook games came under fire Monday with a Wall Street Journal report that popular applications have been sending personal information to advertisers.

When CNN asked Harris, who created the games for Scott and Beebe, if he was concerned about the potential backlash for such information gathering around his games, he said, "No. Not at all. You accept the terms."

Filed under: 2010 • Facebook
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    Sarah Palin actually played that Facebook game, but she quit half way through.

    October 18, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  2. stufthis

    Face book was created for those who cannot think beyond 140 characters.

    October 18, 2010 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  3. thoughtdog

    Although these may not be considered underhanded efforts, they are somewhat seedy in my book. The Republicans seem to have a way of getting what they want in some of the most obscure ways. Just like they ran the government for years.
    Showing total disregard for what is good for the American people is just one of their trademarks.

    October 18, 2010 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  4. Dave

    This election is no game.

    You think you're having problems? If Rand paul is voted into senate, if O'Donnell is voted into senate, if the woman who is
    trying to take Reid's seat in Nevada is voted to Senate, do you think your problems are going to get better? These are all
    extremist. If you think you are angry now, let these zealots get control of things like your social security and cut out
    everything the middle class stands for. Never underestimate the stupidity of the American people to cut off their noses to
    spite their faces based on their prejudices and propaganda. None of these extremists is capable of finding jobs, only obstructing progress of the ones who are actually doing something. Harry Reid has done more for Nevada in its history.
    President Obama has done more in two years than the republicans messed up in eight. Before you follow ignorance over
    the cliff, you had better first of all VOTE democrats, secondly ask yourself at the polls are you voting your own interests
    or are you reversing the progress taking place by voting for people who have no answers at all. If not , only blame the
    person in the mirror.

    October 18, 2010 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |