There is an existing, popular, location-aware, mobile geo-social network with a huge install base of primarily gay men. It has realized the power that it wields, and wants to apply it for the political betterment of the american portion of that user-base. It plans to do so by narrowly targeting small groups of that user-base and supplying them with immediately relevant information and calls for action. In order to form a minority political bloc.
Meet Grindr for Equality.
It’s “a social effort developed by Grindr, [a] call to action, informing gay men in the United States about the issues, urging them to vote for candidates based on those issues, and getting out their vote in order to have a decisive impact on this upcoming election.”1
My first thought was, “oh, lovely, they’re going to start spamming their users and get tuned out.” Anyone who has signed up for a petition online knows the joy of constant donation solicitation in their email inbox. This can’t be good.
Except, Grindr is a geo-targeted social network and messaging system, isn’t it?
So if they’re smart, they can filter and target the messaging so that individual users only get timely and relevant information.
The outcome of this November’s national elections will be decided in several swing states, and Grindr for Equality will use geo-targeted messaging to reach gay men in those states. […]
Grindr for Equality will alert Grindr users in Minnesota to a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage that has been proposed and encourage them to contact their local representatives. Additionally, Grindr for Equality plans to assist Ohio and North Carolina advocates who are working to lift their states’ bans on same-sex marriage.
Oh, okay then.
Still, I’m curious about a few things.
What percentage of Grindr’s core demographic is interested in being mobilized? Simply because a user wants to hook up with other men, that doesn’t necessarily make a statement about his political engagement.
What tools have Grindr put in place to determine whether their messages are effective? It’s going to take some tuning, and this is a time-sensitive effort. There’s a deadline in November, after all.
How are they running this? Is it a team of people targeting specific areas? How do they plan to find all the local bills, determine the geo-social target and call to action for them, send them out, and track action? It seems like a huge coordination effort. Can you use something like Mechanical Turk to spread the effort? But then how do you vet the results?
Concerns aside, this is a gay sex mobile app that’s going to try to create a smart mob voting bloc. I can’t bring myself to do anything other than applaud.
(hat tip: The New Aesthetic)
“Grindr For Equality” has been in place in some form or another since August 2010, but these plans for targeted action are themselves new. ↩