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MySpace: A place for candidates

When do you hang with an old dude online? When he’s running for office!
Barack Obama uses his MySpace profile to win support from voters. With so many candidates and so little time between summer run Reality TV shows, the only thing that matters now is social networking skills.
Barack Obama uses his MySpace profile to win support from voters. With so many candidates and so little time between summer run Reality TV shows, the only thing that matters now is social networking skills. MySpace.com
/ Source: msnbc.com contributors

The era of the presidential debate is over. Candidates complain they don’t get enough time to address questions fully, and voters are too busy watching “Nanny 911” to hear the answers.

With so many candidates and so little time between summer run Reality TV shows, the only thing that matters now is social networking skills.

In the first of a three-part Netiquette series, I’ve invited co-avatar Ree Hines help rate candidate ability to use medium of the people — most especially; MySpace. If you can’t choose a candidate based on his or her MySpace profile, why even bother voting?

Part I: The Democrats

WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 15: Ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee U.S. Sen.Joseph Biden (D-DE) delivers his opening remarks before U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza testified to the committee on Capitol Hill February 15, 2006 in Washington, DC. Rice said that by resuming uranium enrichment for nuclear fuel, Iran is in "open defiance" of the international community. (Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Joseph BidenJoshua Roberts / Getty Images North America


“The next Democratic leader, and this is what the presidential election is all about, has to challenge the American people, tell them the truth, and trust them.”
Age: 64
Star sign: Scorpio
Friend count: 10,835
Comments: 723

Best comment: “i bet joe biden is huge where it counts” -- Dean Bumbaca (Left on Facebook – Joe’s MySpace friends are lame.)

Interests: [Apparently, none.]

Other social network memberships:
Facebook
Flickr
YouTube

Joe’s profile is tidy and easy to navigate, but lacks MySpace pizzazz. The inviting baby blue background and his smiling photo are stark contrast to the fact that he didn’t fill out the “interests” field. And the glaring lack of “I” statements by Joe’s ghost blogger/PR flack indicates to voters that when it comes to fooling the people, Joe can’t be bothered to make an effort.

Helen: I like how Joe has no interests. It tells me that this candidate won’t get distracted while running the country. No monthly golf, fishing, or ranching trips for Joe! So long as he doesn’t get into that all-work-and-no-play-“Shining” territory … 

Ree: How can I vote for a man when I don’t know how he feels about “The Sopranos” finale? What’s his view on Paris Hilton? Where did he stand on the Sanjiya vote? Most polls have him in fourth place, but his MySpace friend count puts him fifth. If the primary vote took place today, and it was held exclusively on MySpace, Biden wouldn’t rank.

***

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y, pauses while speaking to the American Democracy Institute's Youth Leadership Summit, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2006, in Philadelphia. About 1,000 people between the ages of 16 and 35 to gathered to discuss how they can become effective leaders for change. (AP Photo/Joseph Kaczmarek)Joseph Kaczmarek / AP

Best comment: “You and Mitt Romney would make an EFFIN kute Couple LOLZ J/K-ing GURL..YOU GOT MY VOTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” -- Asset

Interests: 14 listed, including “American Idol”.

Other social network memberships:
Facebook
Flicker
YouTube

Hill is the only Dem to fully harness the awesome power of MySpace. Unlike her competitors, Hillary (correctly) filled out the majority of interest fields (though she’s the only Dem to omit her star sign). What’s more, with her campaign theme song vote, Hill offers her MySpace friends something to do besides donate money.

Helen: Where’s Bill? Surely Bill has a MySpace profile! Why isn’t he at the top of Hill’s friends list? And why omit her star sign? She used to chat with Eleanor Roosevelt from beyond the grave, yet she fails to acknowledge the importance of astrology in selecting a presidential candidate.

Ree: I’m just happy to see a candidate with some interests listed. Though I have to admit, some seem dubious. “American Idol” is her favorite reality TV show. And yet chocolate is her worst habit. Yeah, right, “I watched half a season of Sanjaya, and it’s the chocolate I feel bad about.”

***

Best comment: “ima girl and i want you” -- Em

Interests: Sort of.

Other social network memberships:
Facebook
Flickr
Twitter
UStream.tv
YouTube

You have to give it up for Chris’s total dirt style. The black text on navy background inspires instant migraines and the text is blown out all over the screen (at least on our browsers). Still, unlike most of these Dem profiles, Dodd’s looks like the guy actually sat up late one night building it himself — made more believable when his UStream.tv link triggered a Trojan horse threat from our anti-virus software.

Helen: According to his profile, this Chris guy claims he’s one year younger than Biden. He looks like Biden’s dad. Obviously he never learned the cardinal rule of social networking; use a really old photo. Plus, I find the inclusion of his iPod playlist pandering to the kids — I seriously doubt he’s diggin’ “Never Let You Go” by Third Eye Blind. If he is, that’s one good reason to save your vote.

Ree: Like most of these guys, Chris doesn’t seem to grasp the “interests” fields. Under “movies” he’s listed his stand on the issues. The music section contains a link to his Eventful page. These are classic signs of Grandpa using the InterWeb. Still, I give his messed-up page high marks. He allows pictures, animated gifs, and videos in the comments. Gigantic glittery Garfield? No problem!

***

BOSTON - NOVEMBER 03: (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)Chris Hondros / Getty Images North America

Best comment: “GET A FACEBOOK APPLICATION!!!! WootWoot!” -- Derek Renfeld

Interests: Yes.

Other social network memberships:
Facebook
Flickr
Twitter
YouTube

There’s way too much going on here design-wise. John’s clashing campaign colors are bad enough — red, white, blue and puce. The page blows out on some browsers and the videos are tamped down into the comments area. Worst of all, you must scroll through a bunch of banner ads before you get the personal stuff. Which is boring.

Ree: I’m happy to see John went with a short, snappy headline (Unlike Joe Biden’s Faulknerian monster). But frankly, it’s kind of lame: “For America.” Way to take a stand, John! I’d comment on more of the content, but I can’t read it. I’m guessing his Web budget went to his hair.

Helen: Well, props to John for being the one candidate to put his better half (Elizabeth) at the top of his friend list. His “heroes” list also includes Elizabeth – as well as “The American People.” Way to suck up!

***

Democratic presidential candidate, former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, gestures as he makes his opening remarks at the Nevada Democratic Presidential Candidates Forum held by AFSCME in Carson City, Nev., Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2007. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Best comment: “yo homeboy i got your back. I cant vote cause im not a US citizen but im gonna get my homies to vote for you for sure eh” -- Gabriel(sa) makaveli slim shady real emecias

Interests: His own campaign graphics!

Other social network memberships:
Eventful
Facebook
Google Groups
MeetUp
Virb
YouTube

Another blown-out basic MySpace profile from Grandpa. At least Mike’s using a white background so you can actually read the text — though you have to scroll horizontally to see it all. Mike has a thing or two to learn about line breaks as well. But kudos for the audio interview that kicks on at page load. PLUS: He’s the only candidate we’ve seen who’s blinking icon indicates that he’s “on line now!”

Helen: Compared to his amount of friends, Mike’s comment count is suspiciously high. Unlike other candidates, he’s obviously not cutting out the crazies. And good for him! Crazies vote too. At least the non-felons. Also, he’s one of three Dems to list his “straight” status. Must be a McGreevy thing.

Ree: Voters, please take note of Mike’s oxymoronic headline. And apparently his favorite movie is “Mike Gravel for President.” But this lo-fi profile isn’t fooling me. He’s hooked into more social networking sites than any other Dem. candidate — including the sites nobody cares about. Say, I wonder if he’s in my Vegan Cooking Meetup group.

Best comment: "You'd win the American Idol for presidential candidates, if there was one!" -- Biff Bifftofferson (Biff totally doesn't get how “American Idol” works.)

Interests: Healthcare, civil liberties, jobs, the war. Yawn.

Other social network memberships:
Flickr
MeetUp
Twitter
YouTube

Dennis went with the MySpace default template, which is smart as MySpace denizens are trained to this format. The white background with navy border is easy on the eye, and the various categories are neatly positioned. And high-tech high five for the “vlog.”

Helen: I’m totally down with the looping video headlines of compelling Kucinich quotes. It’s like watching “Criminal Minds.” But I resent his use of the pan-and-scan photo feature in his bio images. It’s like he’s trying to trick voters into thinking he’s more than, like, 4” tall.

Ree: Heightism! Meanwhile, Dennis totally needs to add more photos of his disproportionately hot wife. That’s one sure way to attract the all important 18-49 dude vote.

***

Gerald Herbert / AP

Best comment: "dude, when you get presidentence ;). you should still keep a myspace profile. that would be cool to put on here what you are doing and stuff if it would be possible.  Peace, TJ" -- TJ

Interests: Graphics and links about himself!

Other social network memberships:
Eventful
Facebook
Flickr
My.BarackObama.com
PartyBuilder
Twitter
YouTube

Barack’s MySpace profile is surprisingly amateurish given the fact that so much energy went into obtaining it from the Barack fan who opened it. Most text is written in unprofessional 12-point Arial font. And much like the older candidates, Barack failed to use the “interest” fields correctly.

Helen: Barack’s headline is a little mind-control creepy, but it must be working. Check out that six-digit friend count! He’s a MySpace rock star! And, according to his profile, straight too.

Ree: Yes, please note the use of “Official” in the headline. This is the MySpace page Barack totally manifest destinied. I could almost see beyond this profile’s mad grab for power if it weren’t for the fact that he’s also created his own social network: My.BarackObama.com! He’s taking over faster than Google! How long until he’s offering us Campaign ads tailored to our browsing habits? Frankly, I’m a little scared.

***

NEW YORK - APRIL 19: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democratic presidential hopeful, speaks at the 9th Annual National Action Network Convention April 19, 2007 in New York City. Richarson and other candidates, which has inc;uded former U.S. Sen. John Edwards and will include Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama later in the week, are given the opportunity to highlight their Civil Rights credentials at the annual event organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton. (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Bill RichardsonGetty Images North America

Best comment: “ll vote 4 u anytime i hope u win!!!u have done 4 me a great job u helped me by helping me in my education and ill get a job cause u have better laws here not like in other states they have weird laws!!!!!!well hope u win!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!and remember of me when u win!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!thankz for everything!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” -- I_SK8_TILL_I_DIE

Interests: [None, apparently.]

Other social network memberships*:
Facebook
Flickr
PartyBuilder
YouTube

The clown prince of candidates, Bill has a very basic MySpace profile with clear cut categories for his copious accomplishments. There’s an unused blog area (wasted space) and an extensive “About me” post, which is disconcertingly written in the third person. On the plus side, Bill includes videos of his very funny campaign commercials, though you must scroll, like a jillion miles, past the “About me” field to find it. 

Helen: Along with his “straight” orientation, Bill includes his height under “body type.” Obviously it’s an intimidation tactic against his fellow candidates, as he’s a towering 6”2.’ In your face, Kucinich!

Ree: A campaign donation link is the only thing listed in his “Who I’d most like to meet” field. Apparently he’d most like to me a fistful of dead presidents. Still, he obviously appreciates everyone, including the first guy on his MySpace friends list — Tom, the MySpace default.