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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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 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!

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

    • identicon
      kipmartin, 28 Apr 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!!

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

    • identicon
      Nasch, 30 Apr 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. :-)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2008 @ 12:28pm

    Wow that is almost a news story.

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

  • identicon
    anon, 28 Apr 2008 @ 12:35pm

    It's a newspaper's political blog.

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

  • identicon
    Joel Coehoorn, 28 Apr 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.

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

  • identicon
    anon, 28 Apr 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.

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

    • identicon
      Lesser of the evils, 28 Apr 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.

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

      • identicon
        AC, 28 Apr 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.

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

      • identicon
        Willton, 28 Apr 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.

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

      • identicon
        cybergrace, 15 Jul 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 chronology ]

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

    Lawsuit!

    I hold the patent on skdjhrjhse!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 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.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 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.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 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.

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

  • identicon
    Patrick, 28 Apr 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.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 28 Apr 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.

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

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 28 Apr 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.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 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.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2008 @ 3:41pm

      Re: NO POLITICAL STUFF

      and, exactly why would anyone care?

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

    • identicon
      TadGhostal, 28 Apr 2008 @ 9:40pm

      Re: NO POLITICAL STUFF

      I second that motion.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2008 @ 1:29pm

    Eleventh

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

  • identicon
    Greg, 28 Apr 2008 @ 1:40pm

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

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 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)

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

  • identicon
    Overcast, 28 Apr 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...

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

  • identicon
    Gov. LePetomane, 28 Apr 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!

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

  • identicon
    Kevin, 28 Apr 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?

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

  • identicon
    Patrick, 28 Apr 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.

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

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 29 Apr 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.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 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.

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

  • icon
    Nick (profile), 28 Apr 2008 @ 8:31pm

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

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

  • identicon
    Ben, 28 Apr 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!

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

  • identicon
    adfkjasdkfjl, 29 Apr 2008 @ 6:46am

    adksfhaldghl adslhglkwej asdlkgowek.

    alsdkgh alkdshflewi ahdflajsroewvb nbaosdfhaw enavohdifj!

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


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