5/02/2007

Obama bullies volunteer over control of MySpace page...


Obama Camp Takes Control of MySpace Page

The Obama campaign has made it clear how important they think the internet is going to be during the current presidential election cycle. They have essentially launched their own Web 2.0 startup focused on nothing but Barack Obama, where campaign volunteers create customized social networks with other campaign loyalists, in the fashion of the popular MySpace and Facebook. However, it was no longer enough that they had their own Politics 2.0 site up and running strong, the narcissistic Obama team decided that it absolutely had to maintain control over everything written or spoken on the internet about the young candidate, and in a shameful move earlier this week used their leverage with the administrators of MySpace to steal control over the social network's page bearing the Senator's name.

It all began in the anxious weeks of early January, when a progressive young paralegal from L.A. named Joe Anthony seized upon the opportunity to reserve the rights to the MySpace address for the candidate's name, www.myspace.com/barackobama. Stupidly, Anthony contacted the campaign and offered them significant deference and password access to the content management page, giving them the apparent impression that it belonged to them and he was working as a volunteer building the site up to 160,000 people. Anthony had apparently grown weary of managing the network free of charge, so he changed the site's password and made a simple request of $39,000 compensation for the work he had done to date and control over the site and its content. Unwilling to meet the young 'Obamaniac', the campaign decided to go over his head and had the page seized.

First of all, who is to say that Sen. Obama is necessarily entitled to the MySpace page bearing his name, and frankly his campaign should consider it lucky that Michael Savage or someone of his ilk didn't seize upon the same opportunity that Anthony so cleverly did. What if their was another Barack Obama somewhere in America who had registered that page, would MySpace seize the page from him and give it to the candidate? Why can't the campaign use obama2008, or another variation on his name and either the year 2008 or the presidency?

One would think they could afford to cede control over independent pages hosted on other social networks such as MySpace, allowing them remain under control by the individuals who have have dedicated countless hours of their own personal time to build a community of supporters that is free to debate and critique the campaign without having to answer to Obama's staff. However, the Senator's staff feels otherwise. Apparently the campaign is uncomfortable with the thought of an internet site in the candidate's name that they do not have complete control over, which says a lot about the Senator's belief in the principals of free speech and open debate.

I have a friend who is not a big Barack fan, and he tried to join the Senator's MySpace page several weeks ago to voice his opinion about Obama's campaign. His distaste for the Senator stems from an incident at the 2004 St. Patrick's Day parade in downtown Chicago, when then Illinois State Senator Barack Obama showed up unannounced and demanded a position in the precession, arrogantly dismissing the obviously agitated participants in front of whom he rudely inserted himself. My friend is not one to keep his feelings suppressed and confidently posted his objection to the Senator's campaign and his reasons for feeling so strongly. Despite the fact that the campaign did not have control over the page my friend was promptly kicked out of the forum for posting his true feelings, and I had at the time thought wrongly that this was an abuse of free speech rights infringed by the campaign. However, today it is clear that my initial feelings about the nature of the Obama campaign may have been immature, but they certainly were not inaccurate.

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