If You're Going To Put Up Fake Grassroots Videos On YouTube, Shouldn't You At Least Pretend To Be Real People?

from the just-a-thought dept

A political reporter for the Star Telegram in Texas noticed something rather interesting after a Republican National Committee spokesperson sent over some YouTube videos, combining some news clips with snippets of comments from presidential candidates: none of the videos said who they were made by and all of them were put up under odd usernames that looked like someone had just typed randomly on a keyboard -- and all of which only had a single video uploaded. Usernames like skdjhfjhse, asdlkfjasdlk and skfhsdfsd don't exactly look like real people posting user-generated content -- and they're not. When asked about it, the RNC admitted that it had made the videos itself and posted them online. Why not post them under the RNC's official YouTube channel? Well, the RNC claims that it's because these weren't television ads, which is also the excuse it gives for not including a "the RNC is responsible for this ad" disclaimer in the videos. However, it seems pretty clear that the idea was to get these videos up for more viral purposes, suggesting something of a "grassroots" support to the production. However, if you're going to do some astroturfing, you might as well at least have the fake "grassroots" supporters look real. Merely typing in a bunch of characters from the central row of your keyboard is a pretty immediate tipoff that these aren't real people.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 11:58am

    Usernames like skdjhfjhse
    Merely typing in a bunch of characters from the central row of your keyboard is a pretty immediate tipoff that these aren't real people.
    Hey, 'e' isn't from the central row!

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 12:28pm

    Wow that is almost a news story.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Alimas, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 12:32pm

    Re:

    Wow, this is not a newspaper.

     

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  4.  
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    anon, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 12:35pm

    It's a newspaper's political blog.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Joel Coehoorn, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 12:51pm

    well duh

    The one reason that almost makes sense for them to do this is the idea that if you're a democrat, or if you're not quite a democrat but maybe lean just a little to the left, you're not likely to go seek out material specifically posted by the RNC. In fact, having the RNC too closely associated could be a turn-off. So, surprise surprise, they did something to just a few ads to make the content more appealing to the target audience... Of course, the execution could use some work.

     

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  6.  
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    anon, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 12:58pm

    people named skdjhrjhse, etc.

    I'm sure the people who voted twice for Bush (and would elect him again) believe that skdjhfjhse, asdlkfjasdlk and skfhsdfsd are real people...it's just that there names are hard to pronounce.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 1:07pm

    Re: Re:

    Wow, you are an idiot. It came from a newspaper's website.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Gov. LePetomane, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 1:07pm

    Lawsuit!

    I hold the patent on skdjhrjhse!

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 1:09pm

    you're sure? Because I don't believe that those are real people and I just happened to vote twice for Bush. Snarky != Sure jackass.

     

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  10.  
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    Patrick, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 1:16pm

    NO POLITICAL STUFF

    I have techdirt as an Igoogle.com feed. If i keep seeing political stuff i'm going to pull this.

    I'm speaking as a Geek.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 1:29pm

    Eleventh

     

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  12.  
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    kipmartin, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 1:34pm

    Re: viral schmiral

    My good friend, Bob Skdjhfjhse says he takes offense at being labled 'not real!'. He and his wife Asdlkfjasdlk are both lifelong reublicans!!

     

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  13.  
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    Greg, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 1:40pm

    Only ones that vote twice are liberals and dead people in Chicago.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 1:41pm

    "I have techdirt as an Igoogle.com feed. If i keep seeing political stuff i'm going to pull this.

    I'm speaking as a Geek."

    Almost exactly what I was going to post, the only difference is I am going to "pull this" (click the delete button)

     

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  15.  
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    PaulT (profile), Apr 28th, 2008 @ 1:44pm

    Re: NO POLITICAL STUFF

    So, you're not interested in stories where politics and tech intersect with each other? That is, most of them? All the stories about the RIAA, censorship, education, e-voting, copyright law and other common Techdirt themes are completely political at heart.

    Speaking as a fellow geek, I prefer to be informed of times where politicians attempt to subvert technology to meet their own ends.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Lesser of the evils, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 1:47pm

    Re: people named skdjhrjhse, etc.

    Well, if you didn't vote for Bush twice you must still think that Al Gore invented the Internet, that Bill Clinton didn't really have sexual relations with Monica, that Clintons did nothing wrong with Whitewater. I'm sure you probably believe Islam is a peaceful religion, too.

     

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  17.  
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    Overcast, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 1:48pm

    I wonder if they are the same ones selling Gold in WoW and other games.

    Seen that name before!!!!!!

    Maybe they do that to finance their campaigns...

     

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  18.  
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    Mike (profile), Apr 28th, 2008 @ 1:50pm

    Re: NO POLITICAL STUFF

    I have techdirt as an Igoogle.com feed. If i keep seeing political stuff i'm going to pull this.

    Sorry. I don't think of this as even remotely "political." It's technology: it's about how campaigns are using YouTube. I would have written the same post if the Democrats were doing it. It had nothing to do with *who* and everything to do with *what*. Seeing as it's about YouTube, it certainly seemed reasonable for the site.

    I'm sorry you feel otherwise.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 1:58pm

    Re: Lawsuit!

    You can't patent "skdjhrjhse".

    You could register a trade mark on it, giving you the right to identify something of value with "skdjhrjhse", stopping competitors from identifying their competing product as "skdjhrjhse".

    You could copyright it, saying that "skdjhrjhse" is your original work assuming no one else has used that before. Of course to actually defend that copyright you would probably have to prove that it was more then a random set of letters.

    But as "skdjhrjhse" is not a description of a process or idea it is not patentable.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Re: Lawsuit!

    Of course you could patent new and original process for typing "skdjhrjhse", but you could then only sue of someone followed that process. And you would usually only want to do so if typing "skdjhrjhse" in your patented fashion had some form of value.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Gov. LePetomane, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 2:14pm

    "Of course you could patent new and original process for typing "skdjhrjhse", but you could then only sue of someone followed that process." Aha! Gotcha!

     

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  22.  
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    Kevin, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 2:50pm

    Here's an interesting question:

    Well, the RNC claims that it's because these weren't television ads, which is also the excuse it gives for not including a "the RNC is responsible for this ad" disclaimer in the videos.

    At what point will election laws require the parties to actually claim responsibility for their advertising that isn't on TV? Because we're right at the leading edge of a paradigm shift where traditional TV is losing ground to more interactive entertainment, and is also shifting to a more "on-demand" focus. Why aren't the political parties (or candidates) required to stamp their name on ALL of the advertising that they're doing?

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 2:55pm

    Re: NO POLITICAL STUFF

    Oh no! You'll leave!?! What will they do without Patrick reading the feed every day? Ad revenue will drop. They'll have to shut the doors and get real jobs. It will be a tragedy. I'm sure your threats have shaken them up enough that they will drop the political nonsense and get back to proper reporting about tech and... erm... dirt. /sarcasm You don't pay for it, nobody really cares if you read it or not.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Patrick, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 3:03pm

    Re-interare

    To reiterate my point in terms of no Political stuff.

    This is not a technology motivated article. There are some interesting points in this article.If the title had been something like

    "NRC poorly attempts Viral marketing with spam like user names"

    And the content focus had been re-written this would be an awesome "Tech" article. Or even the legal issues discussed above.

    I could be wrong but this article and a few others i have seen reeks of bias.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 3:41pm

    Re: NO POLITICAL STUFF

    and, exactly why would anyone care?

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    AC, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 7:24pm

    Re:

    ...which newspaper's political blog? techdirt is not a newspaper, as far as i'm aware

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    AC, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 7:43pm

    Re: Re: people named skdjhrjhse, etc.

    and i bet you think christianity is peaceful. the internet was invented by the military in the 1950's(+/- 10 years, not sure exactly), the web was invented by Tim Lee. clinton did have sex with an intern, but i don't really give a damn. i was two years old at the time of the whitewater scandal, so i don't really have an opinion one way or the other.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 7:47pm

    astroturf

    Another shining example of the depths to which our political despots will dive.

    I think the term asstard is appropriate here.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Willton, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 7:48pm

    Re: Re: people named skdjhrjhse, etc.

    Well, if you didn't vote for Bush twice you must still think that Al Gore invented the Internet, that Bill Clinton didn't really have sexual relations with Monica, that Clintons did nothing wrong with Whitewater. I'm sure you probably believe Islam is a peaceful religion, too.

    And you must think that cutting taxes (cutting revenue) while maintaining our presence in Iraq (increased spending) is a great way to balance the budget. I bet you also think that Michael Brown really did do "a hell of a job."

    Two can play this game, d-bag.

     

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  30.  
    icon
    Nick (profile), Apr 28th, 2008 @ 8:31pm

    "Moron in a hurry" has been redefined by skdjhfjhse, asdlkfjasdlk and skfhsdfsd.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    TadGhostal, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 9:40pm

    Re: NO POLITICAL STUFF

    I second that motion.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Ben, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 9:44pm

    Pull the plug?

    I have techdirt as an Igoogle.com feed. If i keep seeing political stuff i'm going to pull this.

    So if this was about a telecommunications company trying to influence public opinion, that is somehow not political. It's not an article about politics, but as how technology is being used by politicians and current policymakers.

    I am a bit perplexed how a headline in an Igoogle feed would move someone to kill off an information source otherwise seen as valuable. The best thing to do is not click on the [+] or the link and you never have to see anything. Sheeh!

     

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  33.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Apr 29th, 2008 @ 12:58am

    Re: Re-interare

    This is not a technology motivated article. There are some interesting points in this article.

    Huh? Yes, it was entirely a technology motivated article. As I said, I've taken on Democrats as much as Republicans (I'm neither), and if it had been the Dems doing this, I would have written the article the same way.

    I mentioned that it was the Republicans, because that's who was doing it. It had nothing to do with political bias. If it was the Dems, it would have been the same. There was no bias here.

    I dislike both parties equally.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    adfkjasdkfjl, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 6:46am

    adksfhaldghl adslhglkwej asdlkgowek.

    alsdkgh alkdshflewi ahdflajsroewvb nbaosdfhaw enavohdifj!

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Nasch, Apr 30th, 2008 @ 10:26am

    Re:

    It is for me. Of course, k j and f are not, so I don't know what keyboard layout that person might have been using. :-)

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    cybergrace, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 4:52pm

    Re: Re: people named skdjhrjhse, etc.

    Please do not repeat bigotry against Islam. No one is in this comment area talking about the crusades, Northern Ireland or abortion clinic bombings, so stop the prejudice against our Muslim sisters and brothers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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