When one man is running two companies, it’s only a matter of time before the two firms get into bed with one another, right? In this case, the latest collaboration between Square and Twitter is serving a particularly interesting cause — raising money for politicians. As though American politics wasn’t already inundated enough by insane sums and huge chunks of change from both corporate and individual donors, these two tech companies want to make it even easier for you to support your favorite presidential candidate by introducing the $Cashtag, a unique URL campaigns can now use to request donations from supporters.
And while it launched just hours ago, candidates are already jumping on board, with both Ben Carson and Sen. Rand Paul, Republican candidates who have depended heavily on smaller donations, reporting plans to sign up immediately.
“Twitter is the center of the political universe during debates, and their partnership with Square will make the platform even more attractive to campaigns looking to spend time and resources there,” Vincent Harris, chief digital strategist for Mr. Paul’s presidential campaign, told the Wall Street Journal. And Jenna Golden, the head of political advertising sales at Twitter, agrees, noting in her related blog post announcement, “When people have conversations about politics, they have them on Twitter. It’s what voters learn and share in these conversations that routinely motivates political action. That’s why we’re making it easier for Twitter users to actively support candidates and causes.”
Setup looks to be a breeze, with candidates simply setting up a “Business” account with Square Cash and sending an email to Square notifying the company of their registration. Once the campaign and candidate have been verified, they’re given the opportunity to tweet a $Cashtag to solicit donations from eager supporters. While the tool is free to use, Square will take a 1.9 percent cut of donations made on the platform.
If you’re interested in donating to a candidate via this new integration, your job is even easier. Simply hit the “contribute” button that appears on a candidate’s $Cashtag, select your donation amount, and provide your payment information. You can then share your altruism (or political activism) with the world by tweeting out the candidate’s $Cashtag, because nothing makes you feel good like telling your friends that you’ve just supported the [insert candidate name here] campaign, right?
This latest development is certainly catapulting campaign finance into the 21st century, and as Golden notes, “By partnering with Square to enable donations through Tweets, and as the 2016 election season heats up, we’ve upgraded these tools through which citizens can raise their voices to champion causes and candidates they support.”
So try as you might, friends, you won’t be able to escape the 2016 election. Things are starting to heat up, so keep a close watch on your wallets. If you’re not careful, these new $Cashtags may just be your new, civically responsible kryptonite.