The push for new gun-control measures, the following, the Parkland, Florida, shooting that killed 17 people are high-profile and public: Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have blanketed the airwaves, spurred nationwide student walkouts, and featured prominently in a CNN town hall meeting grilling Florida's pro-gun Senator Marco Rubio.
The grassroots effort to blunt this momentum by the National Rifle Association.
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 has not sponsored marches or rallies. But in the mid-February the mobile app of the NRA's Institute of Legislative Action urged users to send pre-written tweets that automatically to their individual members of the 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, 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, located within the app, was also likely besieged.
The NRA's ability to mobilize its members is more important than ever. The same is true of other advocacy groups on both sides of the aisle. Since the 2016 presidential election campaign, presidential electoral process has taken place in the United States.
In January, Facebook announced it was overhauling its popular “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 organization and they're hoping to emulate. “In the past, the social media strategy has mostly involved memes and hashtags,” says Shola Farber, co-founder of the Tuesday Company. “
Farber, who worked as a field organizer in Michigan for Hillary Clinton in 2016, says it's noteworthy,” It's the same thing as the NRA is doing is different: They're scaling and organizing, volunteers through an app and mobilizing them to accomplish a task. ” that an advocacy group such as the NRA is developing organising tools that Clinton's presidential camp lacked.
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,” says Michael Luciani, Farber's fellow TuesdayCompany co-founder.
Thomas Peters, the founder of uCampaign, which is built in the NRA app, says his company in the case of stopping new guns. “I was born of a lot of my youth on computer games, so I understand that 'gamification' is awarding badges, points, and social recognition – drives activity,” says Peters. “From the outset we've won users with 'action points' through the platform. These are the breadcrumbs that let users follow the trail to what they are supposed to do. “
Strategists in both parties say that traditional political volunteering is cumbersome and hierarchical, requiring volunteers to visit a campaign headquarters, grab a clipboard, knock on doors, and then enter information gathered into a database. It can be difficult or ineffective in rural areas and struggles to reach certain populations, such as transient younger voters. Online efforts are a cacophony of hashtags and mixed messages, rarely directed at the right targets. “We're training people how to be activists,” says Peters. “I guarantee you most people – if they even know their congressman – they would have to have trending.”  In contrast, uCampaign's development team worked directly with Facebook and Twitter, integrating their app with the Google's Civic Information API, which can match any US residential address with the correct political representatives, polling locations, and candidate data, allowing for the auto-populated messages the NRA is sending to Congress.
“What they've figured out,” says Luciani, “is how to do digital volunteering in a way that's effective. We did the same thing in Virginia's elections last year to turn out voters. They are doing it to the members of the Congress. “Both companies are also experimenting with peer-to-peer texting as another promising avenue for digital organising.
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 do not have a lot of fun toys and safe spaces to call their own,” Peters says. “If you want to talk about what you really feel about Secondary rights, you can talk with people who agree with you, instead of getting into Facebook.” All of this fosters loyalty among the app's users, which, in turn, makes them easier for the NRA to deploy.
“With uCampaign, with Team, you're actively directing people to do things that you know they're motivated to do by the cause,” says Luciani.
As tech companies move to stamps out fake news and fraudulent accounts, Peters says, users of the NRA's app (and similar technology) will see their messages spread more easily across social media, since they're often directed at friends and family and will not have to compete with as much artificial, bot-generated content.
“Facebook and Twitter love with organic content come in from other sources,” he says. “That's why we built in integration. “
That's the goal of any political campaign, whether it's electing a president or lobbying against gun legislation. And Peters adds that there is one more important advantage to the organisational real people over the fake ones: “Bots do not vote.” – Bloomberg