Over the last several years, membership in social networking sites has grown exponentially to include more than 50 million users worldwide. Facebook and MySpace are now used by approximately one-quarter of the population of the U.S. and Canada.

These impressive numbers will not slow in the near-term as more and more people seek their own personalized turf and social circles on the Internet. With the election of Barack Obama, the 44th president of the U.S., the core values of social networking are poised to reach far into the White House, helping to better engage citizens in the political process and allowing the voices and views of the masses to be heard as never before. Social networking is making democracy even more democratic. Barriers between elected officials and their constituents are crumbling further, as politicians have dynamic and instant access to public opinion via the Web. Elected officials who ignore the grassroots momentum of social networking and refuse to harness its potential may not only govern worse, they may find themselves out of office. In the last few years, we have witnessed Web-enabled social networking reshape the way politicians manage and run their campaigns.

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