Romney to Announce VP Pick Via Smartphone App, in Exchange for Users' Personal Data

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
July 31 2012 6:44 PM

Romney to Announce VP Pick Via Smartphone App

Mitt's VP app
The "Mitt's VP" app will tell you when Romney announces his running mate.

Screenshot

Want to be among the first to hear who Mitt Romney picks as his running mate, before even the press*? Follow these three easy steps:

Will Oremus Will Oremus

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

  1. Download the free** “Mitt’s VP” app on your iPhone or Android device
  2. Enter a whole bunch of your personal information and allow the app to track your location via GPS
  3. Hope the news doesn’t leak to the press before your moment of glory
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That’s the proposition that the Romney campaign is offering its supporters. So far, they seem to be taking him up on it. Buzzfeed notes that the Romney app is crushing a new Obama app (also released today) on the iPhone’s leaderboard for downloads of free apps.

How many of those early adopters are bona fide Romney partisans, as opposed to journalists and Obama supporters who happen to want to know about Romney’s running mate, remains to be seen. You’d think the fact that the app signs you up for Romney mailers and email blasts might scare off some of the Democrats. On the other hand, the more Democrats sign up, the less valuable the targeting data the Romney campaign obtains from the project.

Romney, it’s worth noting, is copying from the Obama ’08 playbook. The Obama campaign culled supporters’ cell phone numbers in exchange for the chance to learn of his VP pick via text message. Alas, the word on Biden slipped out before the text blast. Perhaps the Romney crew will prove better at keeping a secret.

Meanwhile, the field of favorites for the choice may be down to three: Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. But you never know until you know.

*Disclaimer: Virtually everyone in “the press” also has this app. Except me—my iPhone 3G is too old to meet the system requirements.

**I wonder how long it will be before we stop calling things “free” if they require you to enter valuable personal data.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.