Opinion: Social media wrap: Now you can take Michele Bachmann (iPhone app) with you

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Having a politician in somebody’s pocket used to be a bad thing for democracy. Now it may be the future form of contact with our elected representatives.

Minnesota congresswoman and “tea party” favoriteMichele Bachmann on Monday unveiled her new iPhone application -- or “app” -- that allows a user to receive Bachmann’s latest campaign updates and video and photos from the stump.

It also gives voters information on how to register to vote, find local polling offices and contribute to Bachmann’s campaign. Almost immediately some of Bachmann’s more than 72,000 Facebook followers asked that the app be rolled out across the Blackberry and Android smartphone platforms (for now though, it’s only available on Apple’s smartphone).

An “app” is different from, say, a Facebook or Twitter feed as it allows a user to access the above information instantly in clearly defined subcategories (although Bachmann’s campaign team will no doubt send her Twitter and Facebook updates through the app also), and is a more accessible program to use on a mobile device than a traditional campaign website.


President Obama was the first major U.S. politician to use an app to wide effect when a campaign ...

... group launched the Obama ’08 app, which among other features organized your “friends” contact list by battleground states, which allowed a user to call them and attempt to swing their votes the now-president’s way. Sam Brownback of Kansas was the first U.S. gubernatorial candidate to launch a personal campaign app earlier this year.

A variety of apps also allow users to track a politicians’ voting record and other vital electoral functions. But some politicians have found to their ire that Apple has rejected their proposed app.

Republican Ari David, who is contesting highly ranked Democrat Henry Waxman’s California congressional seat, posted on his campaign website earlier this year that his app (that attacked Waxman’s political positions) was rejected. You can read the full discussion of his ongoing battle with Apple, and Apple’s response, at the LATimes’ discussion site here.

David wrote: “So, with all of this going on, I think we can clearly see a pattern emerging here. If you are a lefty, a commie, a radical muslim, an enviro-statist greenie or a Democrat party candidate with socialist/statist leanings that you wish to share far and wide, then have at it and create something for the itunes app store. But if you are a conservative who possesses dangerous notions like you love America, worship a just and forgiving God or are in support of our troops when they go to war against the enemies of free people, Apple says you need not apply.”

The most interesting thing we found about Bachmann’s app, however, was that after downloading it from the iTunes site, it consistently crashed (despite lots of fiddling I haven’t yet got it to work). Bachmann’s team has also posted a note at the top of the app download page that says the app also right now is not working properly with the iPad (Apple’s tablet computer) but should be back online shortly.

Ghosts in the machine, or a big business-led conspiracy to deny Bachmann’s supporters the undubitable delights of her campaign updates? Maybe Rachel Maddow would like to weigh in.

-- Craig Howie For the best political commentary online, click here for Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or follow us @latimestot or @craighowieLAT. Our Facebook Like page is over here.Also available on Kindle now with a two-week free trial.