A growing number of Ted Cruz supporters are checking their smartphones every day, in an effort to gain points and make their way to the top of the "Cruz's Crew" leaderboard.
The Texas senator's campaign is hoping that the app — and the competition it fosters — will motivate voters to not only volunteer and contribute to their effort, but also turn over a lot of vital personal information.
The heart of the app, though, prompts users to acquire points by taking a variety of actions: post pro-Cruz messages to Facebook or Twitter, donate money and sign up to volunteer.But in addition to prompting supporters to broadcast their support for Cruz, the app also attempts to gather information about people's social networks and friend groups.
Whenever a new user logs in, the app asks for access to their phone's contact list. Turning over that information earns a user 250 points. By comparison, a contribution only gets 10 points. [Emphasis mine.]
If this is successful as an information gathering tool, it seems likely many more (and more well polished) versions will be popping up in other campaign apps. What other domains might we see this -- maybe religious or music groups? Does its success mean we shouldn't take seriously the new branch of experimental economics that uses games to make inferences about various economic theories?