Twitter politics: Can candidates tweet their way to top of fundraising heap?

Twitter has rolled out a feature that allows its users to donate funds to political candidates and causes.

Evan Vucci/AP/File
A view of an iPhone in Washington showing the Twitter app among others, May 21, 2013. Think of it as tweeting for dollars. The social media service Twitter on Tuesday introduced a feature that enables political candidates and advocacy groups to raise money directly via its mobile application, making it quicker and easier to harvest small donations from followers.

With the US elections about 13 months away, Twitter on Tuesday unveiled a new tool that allows presidential candidates ask for donations through a simple tweet.

Teaming with Square Inc, a financial services company, for the initiative, Twitter is pitching this mobile application as the “the fastest, easiest way to make an online donation, and the most effective way for campaigns to execute tailored digital fundraising, in real time, on the platform where Americans are already talking about the 2016 election and the issues they are passionate about,” according to an official blog post.

According to Twitter, at least twelve presidential candidates will begin using the new fundraising technique right away. Besides White House contenders, the service is also available to local and state-level candidates, according to Jenna Golden, Twitter's director of political ad sales.

"We think about donating to a campaign as an old-fashioned, traditional process, a cumbersome process," Ms. Golden told the Associated Press. "This was an incredible opportunity for us to simplify and streamline."

To enable the feature, candidates need to first sign up for an account through Square Cash. Once a campaign has been verified by Square, staffers can tweet a unique URL, or $Cashtag, to request donations from supporters.

When a potential donor sees the tweet, they can then hit the “contribute” button and choose how much they would like to pay.  

"Twitter has been a successful avenue of fundraising for campaigns in the past, and this will make it even more attractive to campaigns as they look at how to allocate precious dollars," Vincent Harris, a digital strategist for Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s campaign, told AP.

According to Twitter, tweets about the August 6 debates on Fox News were viewed more than 1 billion times on Twitter and across the web.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

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