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Author Topic: Bloomberg: "The NRA Has a Secret Weapon to Fight Gun Control: A Powerful App"  (Read 416 times)
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Posts: 124

« on: March 09, 2018, 09:30:55 PM »

The app is so effective at connecting the NRA’s members with lawmakers, even Democrats are jealous.


As lawmakers return to Washington this week under pressure to act on guns, the NRA is directing members’ activism at the audience that matters most: Congress. Republican congressional leaders have had little to say; the NRA hasn’t sponsored marches or rallies. But in mid-February the mobile app of the NRA’s Institute of Legislative Action urged users to send pre-written tweets that automatically route to their individual members of Congress, telling them to “Protect our constitutional right to self-defense; Defend the #2A! #DefendTheSecond.”

A few days later, the NRA app, drawing on users’ personal data, offered to connect them to their legislators so they could “Ask Your Lawmakers to Oppose New Gun Control.” Members of Congress were quickly besieged with a coordinated message that cut against the #NeverAgain movement dominating newspapers and cable television. And after President Trump’s comments in favor of gun control at a bipartisan White House meeting yesterday, the White House switchboard number, posted within the app, was also likely besieged.

As the push for gun control gains public momentum, the NRA’s ability to mobilize its members is more important than ever. ... In January, Facebook announced it was overhauling its popular News Feed to prioritize messages from friends and family and “show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.” A month later, Twitter purged thousands of bot accounts used to amplify political messages and hashtags. Both developments privilege political tech that can marshal actual human beings.

Democratic technologists say the NRA’s app-based lobbying campaign is the next wave of political organizing and one they’re hoping to emulate. “In the past, social media strategy has mostly involved memes and hashtags,” says Shola Farber, co-founder of the Tuesday Company, a startup whose Team app organizes volunteers digitally. “What the NRA is doing is different: They’re scaling and organizing volunteers through an app and mobilizing them to accomplish a task.” Farber, who worked as a regional director leading a team of field organizers in Michigan for Hillary Clinton in 2016, says it’s noteworthy that an advocacy group such as the NRA is developing organizing tools that Clinton’s presidential camp lacked and using them to influence the legislative process.

That’s why Democratic organizers are so intent on keeping up. “This technology is positioned to flourish under the new rules emerging in social media, since it gives significant advantage to anyone organizing real people,” says Michael Luciani, Farber’s fellow Tuesday Company co-founder.

Thomas Peters, the founder of uCampaign, which built the NRA app, says his company designed the app to hook users by incorporating elements of video games to induce them to work toward a shared goal—in this case, stopping new gun laws. “I wasted a lot of my youth on computer games, so I understood that ‘gamification’—awarding badges, points, and social recognition—drives activity,” says Peters. “From the outset we’ve awarded users with ‘action points’ through the platform. These are breadcrumbs that let users follow the trail to what they’re supposed to do.”


Peters believes that gun owners often face unpleasant social sanctions when discussing their enthusiasm in public forums like Facebook, so he designed the NRA’s app to include a chatroom that functions as a kind of private equivalent, bustling with social media memes that celebrate heat-packing busty women, mock “libtards,” and venerate Trump, veterans, and other pro-gun luminaries. “Center-right people don’t have a lot of fun toys and safe spaces to call their own,” Peters says. “If you want to talk about how you really feel about Second Amendment rights, you can talk with people who agree with you, instead of getting into a Facebook war with your aunt or your co-worker.” All of this fosters loyalty among the app’s users, which, in turn, makes them easier for the NRA to deploy.
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Download the app from the Apple Store and join the NRA-ILA's army of political activists fighting against the antis!

While contacting your reps may not get them to vote the way you want them to, think of it as a "harassing the enemy" operation. That should put a smile on your face!  Grin

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