Politician Sorry for “Liking” Photo of Teenager’s Genitals

Australian Minister of Education Peter Collier “says he has learned a valuable lesson in social networking after he ‘liked’ a Facebook photo without realizing that it showed a teenage prankster exposing himself,” the Guardian reports.

Collier apologized and said he “had no idea that the teenager, who was otherwise fully clothed and posing alongside an older man, was playing a prank commonly known as ‘sneaky nuts.'”

RNC Launches New Tech Initiative to Catch Democrats

“National Republicans are building a new data-sharing platform as the party moves to close a digital divide with Democrats that became glaringly apparent in the aftermath of the 2012 presidential election,” Roll Call reports.

They’ve got a partnership with two third-party entities “designed to facilitate unprecedented data generation and sharing across all GOP party committees, consultants, vendors and the conservative outside groups that have become increasingly active in political campaigns. The effort, which could cost up to $20 million, stems from recommendations made by the Growth and Opportunity Project, the RNC’s internal autopsy of what went wrong last year commissioned by Chairman Reince Priebus.”

Former Lawmakers Seek Evidence of Space Aliens

Former Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D) told the Detroit News that she’s “excited about presiding over a week’s worth of testimony about the existence of extraterrestrials.”

Kilpatrick “signed up with five other former members of Congress to listen to testimony aimed at proving alien contact with Earth and a government effort to cover it up.”

Also on the panel are former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-AK), as well as former Reps. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Darlene
Hooley (D-OR), Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) and Merrill Cook (R-UT).

Could Google Sway an Election?

Psychologist Robert Epstein has testing the impact of a fictitious search engine “that manipulated search rankings, giving an edge to a favored political candidate by pushing up flattering links and pushing down unflattering ones,” the Washington Post reports.

“There is no reason to believe that Google would manipulate politically sensitive search results… Yet Epstein’s core finding — that a dominant search engine could alter perceptions of candidates in close elections — has substantial support. Given the wealth of information available about Internet users, a search engine could even tailor results for ­­­certain groups, based on location, age, income level, past search history, Web browsing history or other factors.”

Brown Insists He Wasn’t Drunk Tweeting

Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) insisted to Fox 25 Boston that he wasn’t drunk when he tweeted a series of late night messages last month.

Said Brown: “Anyone ever hear of pocket tweet, pocket dial? I mean it was pretty simple, you know. I have an iPhone 5. If anyone has an iPhone 5, the keys are small. It’s very, very sensitive.”

But Gizmodo and Blue Mass Group debunk Brown’s claim and find it couldn’t have been a “pocket tweet.”

Gore Says Internet Will Reduce Influence of Money in Politics

Al Gore said the Internet would eventually lessen the role of money in politics, Tech Crunch reports.

Said Gore: “Over time, the rise of the Internet will inexorably diminish the role of money in politics, which is driven today in significant measure by the need on the part of politicians to amass these huge war chests primarily for buying 30-second television advertisements.”

He added: “And as the Internet becomes more prominent and eventually the central way in which we communicate, it does bring the promise of re-empowering individuals to play their roles as citizens and to revitalize representative democracy.”

How Twitter Distorts Politics

First Read: “We’ll make one more point about Hagel’s hearing yesterday: Twitter and all the instant analysis made a bad performance look even worse — just like Twitter and instant analysis made Romney’s Ford Field speech, Donald Verrilli’s Supreme Court oral argument, and Barack Obama’s first debate all seem worse. And what eventually happened in those instances? Romney went on to win the GOP nomination, the Supreme Court upheld the health-care law, and Obama won the general election by four percentage points. So those things are a reminder that while Twitter and instant analysis can get the style right, they’re not as good when evaluating the substance or the overall political reality. And that’s a good lesson for all of us to keep in mind.”

How Technology Has Restored the Soul of Politics

Joe Trippi: “All these changes in democratic politics will be profound, although not all the consequences will be good. New technologies can manipulate, empower, or do both. There will be plenty of actors in both politics and business who will use the innovations of the Obama 2012 campaign as tools to manipulate people. But for me, right now, it feels as if technology has empowered people and given politics back its soul.”

Inside Obama’s Voter Database

The Washington Post has an interesting report on the Obama campaign’s voter database which pairs voting records with political donation histories and vast amounts of personal but publicly available consumer data.

“Campaign workers added far more detail through a broad range of voter contacts — in person, on the phone, over e-mail or through visits to the campaign’s Web site. Those who used its Facebook app, for example, had their files updated with lists of their Facebook friends along with scores measuring the intensity of those relationships and whether they lived in swing states. If their last names seemed Hispanic, a key target group for the campaign, the database recorded that, too.”

“To maintain their advantage, Democrats say they must guard against the propensity of political data to deteriorate in off years, when funding and attention dwindles, while navigating the inevitable intra-party squabbles over who gets access now that the unifying forces of a billion-dollar presidential campaign are gone.”

Quote of the Day

“We’ve got to be a kind of pro-science and pro-technology party. And I think Marco Rubio is just that. On the Earth question, I guess I have to read more closely in terms of getting a better understanding, but, yeah, kind of a strange response, I guess.”

— Jeb Bush Jr., quoted by the Washington Post, saying Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) response to a question about the age of the Earth was a “head scratching type of answer.”