Obama’s Flickr HCR campaign: how much does web “airtime” cost?

Posted: 21/03/2010 in Uncategorized

The official visit US president Barack Obama was about to make to Asia and Australia has been delayed (June has been mentioned as a possible date), as pressing matters in Washington hang like a dark, turbulent cloud over the former senator’s agenda. In the next 24 hours, the long struggle for Health Care Reform (one that has developed over decades and involved such influential figures as Ted Kennedy) could probably be finalized, as Congress will embark in a final voting session. This issue has divided the US, once more, into blue and red states, and has incited incendiary comments from both sides. “Socialist”, “Commie” and the such are terms with which Republicans have long associated Obama with, even since the 2008 campaign trail. In return, Republicans have been depicted as money-mongers who care less about people than about the interests of big insurance companies. In the past few weeks, the Internet has been flooded with dozens of videos, pictures and comments that evidence little deep knowledge of the reforms and a big propagandist inclination.

The Internet has yet to be regulated in many fronts. Diverse moral, legal and political intricacies have yet to be addressed (or not) by those who will set the rules (or not) of this many-headed beast. Barack Obama has used social media extensively during this battle for the HCR and, indirectly, ahead of the 2010 and 2012 elections (health care reform, many pundits agree, could certainly define the outcome of both). One example, Flickr, pictures citizens showing their reasons for supporting the bill. This gallery follows the pattern established by Obama even since his pre-senatorial days: everyday men and women and their relationship with “big politics” –main street vs. Wall Street–. But, as spending costs of campaigns are being increasingly regulated in many democracies, there will be a point where social media actions employed by current presidents who will potentially contend –for the same or another political post– will be scrutinized.

How to designate a cost to web “airtime”?

Internet regulation should not be discussed in terms of black and white. Web communications touch many sensitive points in “the real world”. In developing countries,where big political machines crush smaller parties, how will the limits for online spending be regulated?  Ahead of elections, how much “digital airtime” should governments employ?

This video, distributed via Obama’s Facebook account, is part of the same campaign:

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