Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Facebook-only campaign websites? There are at least two

A pretty high percentage of Cook County judicial candidates have Facebook pages in this election cycle. I haven't really mentioned these, except in passing. If a candidate is looking for 'likes' on his or her Facebook campaign page you'll certainly find that out by visiting the candidate's website.

Some candidates -- candidates with their own dedicated campaign websites -- have told me that they're thrilled with the responses they get from their Facebook campaign pages, how (thanks to the mysterious algorithms of Mr. Zuckerberg) these have connected them to persons with whom they'd long ago lost touch, but who now come forward to help the candidate out.

I have seen some judicial candidates (in my experience, already sitting judges) treat Facebook like it were radioactive. On the other hand, I have seen other judicial candidates (some of these also sitting judges) who seem to master Facebook, amassing seemingly infinite numbers of "friends," and monopolizing Facebook newsfeeds.

For my part, however, I haven't reported on candidates' use of Facebook per se. I've found stories on Facebook that I've turned into posts here. In some cases I found campaign websites through Facebook use. (My children -- who, like all children, see their parents as hopelessly old, feeble and technologically challenged -- have occasionally expressed astonishment at my Facebook skills. Since this is my blog, I can omit disclosure of all the times my kids laughed at me for the exact same reasons. Ooops.)

Recently, however, it has become apparent that at least some 2014 Cook County judicial campaigns are bypassing regular (traditional?) websites altogether, choosing to use Facebook only.

Mary Alice Melchor
I can understand the economic incentive: Facebook is free. This allows candidates like Mary Alice Melchor, candidate for the countywide Neville vacancy, and Scott Michael Kozicki, candidate for the "A" vacancy in the 11th Subcircuit, to devote campaign resources elsewhere. Their Facebook-only campaign websites have both been added to the blog Sidebar.

Scott Michael Kozicki
If you sample the candidate sites on the Sidebar you will find that candidate websites range from simple 'tombstone'-type pages to very elaborate animations. Some have video messages from the candidates; some post candidate interviews on shows like Avy Meyers' North Town News Magazine. Some clearly had a large budget available (or in-house access to a talented web-programmer); some obviously used cookie-cutter templates. This blog, for example, is built on a cookie-cutter template that Blogger offered. The original format used here was changed a few years back and I eventually had to 'upgrade,' but I was able to find something very similar. Facebook, on the other hand, can change formats in the middle of the night, without notice, input or consent by the alleged page 'owner.' (See, e.g., "Timeline.") Maybe it was Timeline that soured me on accepting Facebook sites as "real" websites.

But no more. I have seen the error of my ways.

At least until Son-of-Timeline.

Hopefully that won't happen before the March primary.

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