by Mike Masnick
Mon, Apr 28th 2008 11:30am
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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