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.

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Companies: rnc, youtube

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

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36 Comments
Joel Coehoorn says:

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.

Lesser of the evils says:

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.

AC says:

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.

Willton says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

PaulT (profile) says:

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.

Mike (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Kevin says:

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?

Patrick says:

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.

Mike (profile) says:

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.

Ben says:

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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