Facebook Changes Will Affect 2016 Campaigns’ Social Strategy

Changes to Facebook's terms of service will go into effect April 2015. It will change how campaigns are able to reach voters through social media.

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Just when most prospective candidates will be announcing and launching their 2016 presidential campaigns, Facebook will officially be changing its terms of service for third-party apps. Which means campaigns won’t be able to take all the lessons learned from Obama’s successful social media campaigns and apply them.

Yahoo reported Monday morning that the changes to the API went into affect for new apps in April 2014, but existing apps were given a year to make changes. Jon Ward writes:

What this means in practice is that a group like Ready for Hillary, the grass-roots network of supporters for a Clinton presidential run, has been able to use targeted sharing over the past year. That means it has the Facebook friend lists of all the people who’ve installed Ready for Hillary’s app on the social network.
 
But when the API and terms-of-service changes become permanent for all apps, Ready for Hillary — as well as any campaign that has bought its voter information — won’t be able to keep up to date with its supporters’ most recent lists of friends, and will learn nothing about the Facebook friends of new supporters.

Republican candidates who weren’t ahead of the social campaign game won’t have had a chance to use the tool to get voter at all. But many feel that there may still be a way to get around the changes. The important thing for campaigns is to figure out how to reach voters through their friends on social media, where the message always seems more authentic than in television spots.