The Obama MySpace Goof

The Obama campaign has managed to turn its MySpace page, which had a staggering 160k+ users (next best was Hillary with 42k) into a screw up big enough to make the Drudge Report. Long story short,

A guy named Joe Anthony started the Obama MySpace page and it was doing so well, Obama’s people just made it into their official page. However, eventually it got to the point where it was essentially turning into a 2nd job for the guy and Obama’s people were also getting nervous about not controlling the website. Then, because Anthony was dealing with enormous numbers of messages and friend requests, he asked to start getting paid for his work. Obama’s team, after thinking about it, decided they would rather offer him a lump sum and completely take it over. They asked him for an estimate and he gave them one that ran somewhere between $39,000 — $49,000.

I will let Tech President explain what happened from there,

“Whatever the case, at this point it appears the Obama people simply decided that they would get control of the myspace.com/barackobama url by going around Anthony and getting MySpace to lock down his access to it. In their view, Anthony was violating MySpace’s terms of service by falsely representing himself as Obama, and thus they didn’t have to pay him anything. The worst that would happen, they reasoned, is that they would have to rebuild the candidate’s network of friends.

And this is indeed what is happening now. At the request of the Obama campaign, the url myspace.com/barackobama has been taken away from Joe Anthony and put in their hands.

….Was this action fair to Joe Anthony? MySpace itself has come up with a positively Solomonic solution to that question, promising to restore Anthony’s network of 160,000 friends as soon as he picks a new url for whatever unofficial Obama fan page he may care to create.”

Now, was $40k plus too much for control of the Myspace page? My gut instinct is “yes,” it probably was. On the other hand, you can contribute money to a candidate directly through his MySpace page and if they were able to raise $5 per person over the course of the campaign, that’s $800k. Moreover, Anthony did put in a lot of time and it was the Obama campaign, not Anthony, who asked him to toss out a lump sum and then tried to screw him over when it was higher than they expected.

Why didn’t they just come back with a smaller figure? Moreover, if money was really that big of a concern to them, they could have had Obama pick up the phone and spend 5 minutes negotiating a deal with Anthony himself. I mean the guy was obviously a big fan of Barack who probably never had any idea that he could make any money off of the website in the first place. So if Obama had called, sweet talked him a little bit, and maybe offered to go to dinner with the guy the next time he’s in his neck of the woods, he probably could have gotten him to hand the page over for $10,000 to $15,000 — and, yes, getting the page with all the friends intact — and avoiding the bad publicity would have been worth that much.

So, why did they try to take the page out from under Anthony instead of going that route? My best guess? Simply because they thought they could get away with it. They probably thought they would go to MySpace, ask for control of the page, and MySpace would just take Anthony’s page from him and hand it over to the campaign, no questions asked. That’s not the right way to treat a volunteer who spent a lot of his free time helping out the campaign, to great effect, but it’s apparently how Obama works behind the scenes. That makes me think that Hillary may not be the only utterly ruthless candidate in the Democratic Party’s top tier this time around.

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