How easy is it to illegally donate to a presidential campaign in the digital age?

This easy.

Key findings of a Pew Internet Project reports that this past June, after the Federal Election Commission allowed political campaigns “to accept campaign contributions via text message, and both of the major presidential candidates now allow supporters to contribute directly to their campaign using a cell phone,” 13 percent of all adults have made a contribution to one of the presidential candidates in this year’s election, with just one percent of them using their cell phone. Democratic donors are much more likely to make a contribution online or directly from their cell phone, the report states.

The New York Post last week reported evidence that the Obama campaign has been accepting foreign donations online.

The Post reported, “The Obama re-election campaign has accepted at least one foreign donation in violation of the law – and does nothing to check on the provenance of millions of dollars in other contributions, a watchdog group alleges.”

Clearly illegal and in violation of Federal Election Commission rules, this article shows how it is being done.


The role of the social media, its uses and the impact it is having on this presidential campaign are enormous and unprecedented in history.

For example, did you know that more Democrats than Republicans are donating to campaigns online? According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, nearly 57 percent of Democrats who contributed to the campaigns have done so online, while only 34 percent of Republican donors used the Internet to make their contribution.

Did you know that two-thirds of social media users, including those using Facebook and Twitter are engaged in political activity?

Thirty-eight percent of “adult social media users have ‘liked’ or promoted material associated with politics or social issues.”

“Republicans are generally more likely than Democrats on social media to re-share content that someone else had originally posted on political or social issues and use social media to follow candidates and lawmakers,” according to the report. “Around 32 percent of conservative Republicans followed candidates and officials on social media, while 27 percent of liberal Democrats did.”

The study surveyed 2,253 adults over the age of 18.

Twitter reports that its expanded capabilities allowed news organizations like CNN to give Twitter users the ability “to experience strong moments of the U.S. presidential debate right on Twitter. Not only does CNN display video clip within the Tweet, but also live statistics about reactions.”

In last Monday’s final debate of the presidential campaign, Twitter reported, “The political conversation on Twitter remained strong with 6.5 million Tweets sent about the 90-minute debate this evening.”

Moments that generated the most volume of conversation throughout the night were:

  • 105,767 tweets per minute, or TPM – 9:45 p.m. ET – Obama: “We also have fewer horses and bayonets”
  • 102,339 TPM – 10:31 p.m. ET – Schieffer: “I think we all love teachers”
  • 87,040 TPM – 9:58pm ET – Romney on Obama’s “apology tour”

The percentage of debate conversation broken out by topic:

  • Foreign policy – 54 percent
  • The economy – 20 percent
  • Terrorism – 9 percent
  • Taxes – 7 percent
  • Energy and the environment – 4 percent

Influencers from both sides of the aisle weighed in with their comments, including U.S. Senator and former presidential contender John Kerry and Ari Fleischer, press secretary to George W. Bush.

Using data from Mass Relevance, Fox News displayed a real-time tweet counter in the lower portion of the TV screen, showing in real time the issues that generated the strongest online response.

No word yet on the role Twitter will play on election night real-time results, but it’s pretty safe to bet that the numbers of tweets will be stratospheric, expected to be the most-tweeted about political event in U.S. history.

Checking in with Facebook’s blog page and newsroom left Surfin’ Safari wanting more. Very little info about traffic related to the presidential campaign or debates available on Facebook.

Speaking of Facebook …

The Blaze is reporting that Citigroup is being fined a couple of million dollars, and one of their analysts has been fired in the latest Facebook IPO mess.

“A young Citigroup analyst was researching Facebook before it went public,” the Blaze reports. “He dropped an email to two of his buddies at a popular technology blog – TechCrunch – leaking them information about Citigroup’s research that was supposed to be private.

“When one friend asked if it was OK to publish the information, the analyst responded with an answer that showed he knew he was breaking the rules: ‘My boss,’ he wrote back, ‘would eat me alive,'” the Blaze reported.

Last week, a securities regulator in Massachusetts slapped a consent order and the fine on Citigroup “for failing to oversee its employee.”

“This penalty,” said Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, “should serve as a warning to the industry as a whole.”

Five-dollar Facebook scandal

Yikes! A Bulgarian blogger purchased a million data entries of Facebook users for five bucks! In his blog post TalkWeb, “Bogo” headlined his post: “I just bought more than 1 million … Facebook data entries. OMG!”

He then wrote, “I have the bloody habit to look for cheap deals on some websites, and today I’ve got the featured offer to buy more than 1 million Facebook entries containing Full Name, e-mail and Facebook profile URL.”

The entries included users’ email addresses.

Facebook is investigating.

Bits & Bytes

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