President Obama’s 2012 Facebook app leveraged the social media giant’s capabilities to amass 45 million users and register more than 1 million voters online. Coding changes to the website will make duplicating that feat difficult, if not impossible, in 2016.
Mr. Obama’s supporters were able to target Facebook friends deemed receptive to the campaign’s message, but privacy concerns prompted Facebook to make technological changes.
“We’ve heard from people that they’re often surprised when a friend shares their information with an app,” wrote Facebook engineering manager Jeffrey Spehar in a blog post, Yahoo news reported Monday. “So we’ve updated Facebook Login so that each person decides what information they want to share about themselves, including their friend list.”
The president’s 2012 digital director, Teddy Goff, told Yahoo that the changes will have a significant effect on 2016’s crop of candidates.
“The thing we did that will be most affected — by which I mean rendered impossible — by the changes they’re making is the targeted sharing tool,” Mr. Goff told the website. “It’s extremely powerful for a campaign to be able to say to [a user], ‘Hey, here are your persuadable friends, ranked in order of where they live: Ohio first, Virginia second, etc. Go share this video directly with them,’” he added.
Coding changes began April 30, and existing apps were given one year to comply with the changes, Yahoo reported.
Both Mr. Obama and Mitt Romney took advantage of Facebook’s capabilities in 2012, but Mr. Romney only did so one month prior to Election Day, the website reported.
“It seems that the days of getting 1 million users to scrape all of America’s social data are gone,” an NRSC official told Yahoo.
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