NEW YORK – MySpace will let U.S. politicians and non-profit groups raise money for their campaigns through its popular social networking site in a service developed with online payments company PayPal.
The tool creates a space for soliciting donations on the MySpace pages of U.S. presidential candidates and non-profit groups, allowing a user to make the contribution from their own PayPal account, or create one quickly. It will be available on MySpace's Impact Channel highlighting social and political issues at http://impact.myspace.com.
The PayPal fund-raising tool allows users to add the feature to their personal MySpace pages and to encourage their friends to support the same causes.
In addition to top contenders for the 2008 White House race, non-profit groups that will use the service include RAINN, the largest U.S. organization fighting sexual assault, and FINCA International, which provides financial services to some of the world's poorest families.
"It's one thing for a campaign to go out and reach people directly and raise money, but people respond to issues and causes and pleas far more readily when it comes from people they personally know," Jeff Berman, MySpace senior vice president of public affairs, told Reuters.
A test version of the Impact Channel was launched in March and since then all of the major presidential candidates have set up dedicated pages on the site.
The Web came into its own as an outlet for communicating political messages in the past few election campaigns. Ahead of the 2008 race, social networks have become the newest tool to reach out to voters.
MySpace, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp (NWS), offers candidates and charities an audience of nearly 110 million monthly users worldwide, many of them teens and young adults.
"When the biggest presidential candidates on MySpace have larger groups of friends than some of the biggest (music) bands in the world, you know you have reached a landmark," Berman said.
Democratic hopeful Barack Obama is the leading candidate when it comes to the number of friends on MySpace at more than 180,000, with party rival Hillary Clinton not far behind.
EBay's PayPal tool allows MySpace users to see how much each of their friends on the social network have donated to the same cause, and lets charities specify their fund-raising goals.
"We're creating this giant social network money tree," Dana Stalder, PayPal senior vice president of marketing and product, told Reuters. "You'll see us do a lot more things around this over the course of the next year."
Stalder said PayPal was also making the tools available to charities for their own sites.
"FOXNews.com is owned and operated by News Corporation, which also owns and operates MySpace.com."