Digital analysts predict this will be the first election cycle in which Facebook could become a dominant political force. The social media giant has grown exponentially since the last presidential election, rendering it for the first time a major campaigning tool that has the potential to transform friendship into a political weapon.
Facebook is also being seen as a source of invaluable data on voters. The re-election team, Obama for America, will be inviting its supporters to log on to the campaign website via Facebook, thus allowing the campaign to access their personal data and add it to the central data store – the largest, most detailed and potentially most powerful in the history of political campaigns. If 2008 was all about social media, 2012 is destined to become the “data election”.
"Facebook is now ubiquitous," says Dan Siroker, a former Google digital analyst who joined Obama’s campaign in 2008 and now runs his own San Francisco-based analytics consultancy, Optimizely. "Whichever candidate uses Facebook the most effectively could win the war."