Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hey Obama, Where's My $&#&@ Joe Biden Text Message?

It was widely reported that the Barack Obama campaign was trying something innovative, communicating with supporters and other interested parties by text message. It's said to significantly increase voter turnout on Election Day to get texts.

The big moment for the campaign to gather cell phone numbers was an offer that if you give them your digits, you can be "among the first to know" who Obama's running mate would be. As a journalist, I sign up for everything from every candidate.

Well, it's been 45 minutes since BarackObama.Com began splashing news of the Obama-Biden ticket along with the predictable fundraising appeal. But thus far, my cell phone and Miles' are both bereft of any texts from Obama Mobile. No, really -- when I sent my cell number in to sign up, I got a response text that said, "Welcome to Obama Mobile."

Be the first to know? Are you kidding? Top Obama aides leaked this to campaign-trail journalists by mid-evening Friday, hours before even the campaign website said anything. No, in the end this whole text-message thing feels like a bit of a ruse. The whole thing was a big, fat data-mine.


Roger said...

Got mine at 12:59am Pacific. Woo. I think there was at least seven people who hadn't heard by then.

mike_ch said...

I immediately saw the data mine potential and decided not to hand over my number to an organization known to make marketing calls, which basically all campaigns are. Especially if the benefit is simply to learn something that would be posted everywhere upon release.

The closest I'd get to Obama text messages is to follow his Twitter account, since that puts a middle-man between us.

Anonymous said...

I supsect that the Obama campaign is not planning to make any calls to mobile phones with the #s. The idea was to be able to send text messages. They know that people who prefer texts would be turned off by calls.

Anonymous said...

Of course it was a data mine but that doesn't mean that the supporters didn't see it as a fun way to participate in the campaign.

Mike - it wasn't for you, it was for the fervent supporters who like to feel like they're part of the bigger club.

While of course they saw benefit in getting access to more places to send their releases in the future, it is possible that the delay was technical.

Sending millions of anything, be it text messages or emails, takes time - it's not like you hit the button and everyone gets a message at the same time.

I'm sure that the arrangements they made to distribute the SMS messages were setup to batch them over hours or more, depending on how many people we're talking about.

Emails take even longer, even for the dedicated mailing services that these campaigns use.

Anonymous said...

It's 12:15pm PDT, and I still haven't gotten my Obama text msg either.

For those worried about data mining, the only information Obama's campaign could glean from having your number would likely be limited to the carrier you use, and some demographic information based on your area code and prefix. Most wireless carriers have pretty stringent data protection standards in place that would preclude releasing personally identifiable information without a search warrant or subpona (at least, that was the case when I worked at AT&T).

Keep in mind that there is a Do Not Call registry that one can list all phone numbers, including mobile. Also, the 1991 Telemarketing Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) makes it illegal for solicitation calls to be made to wireless phone numbers without clear permission from the individual to whom a number has been assigned.

Anonymous said...

I never got it either.

mike_ch said...

Anonymous, I am a fervent supporter, but so long as the US carriers refuse to join the rest of the civilized world in only charging for outgoing texts, I won't sign up for any SMS version of "send me more" regardless of the source.

I remember telling my Canadian friend who receives thousands of texts a week from subscriptions, about how we get dinged for texts even if we didn't want to get them and won't read them. He said "that's retarded," and then resumed texting away.

Troy from Las Vegas said...

7pm Sunday and I did not get my text message.
Frankly I am not sure I gave his camp my cell phone number but somehow they got it because "he" called and left two messages on my cell a couple weeks back.
Whatever. I know my phone is working 'cause I did get my text AND a phone call from Susie at Scores gentlemen's club to remind me to come down Monday for their Stripperpalooza or whatever they are calling it.
Yeah. I got my priorities straight.