In a techPresident column posted yesterday evening, Nancy Scola raised some excellent questions about MySpace’s plans to offer political campaigns new fundraising tools, including ones designed to allow supporters to raise money on behalf of a candidate. Of course, if MySpace is collecting the money, it’s also collecting data on who’s giving and how much they’re contributing. As Nancy said:
On the one hand, MySpace is a free service, and presidential campaigns can simply choose not to deal with them. That said, high-profile presidential campaigns not using MySpace to build vibrant online followings open themselves up to stories like “Smith Fails the MySpace Test.” The situation the ’08 campaigns find themselves in points to a certain truth — “free” sites like MySpace and Facebook really aren’t free. We just pay for them in a currency other than money.
Others have raised questions about whether the service constitutes a campaign donation in itself and also about whether MySpace’s new status as a campaign contribution “bundler” will give the company at least the appearance of extra political influence. A question I haven’t seen asked — will this service be open to other campaigns, i.e. congressional or state races? What about fundraising for causes? Let’s keep an eye on this one.