Friday, March 30, 2007

Politicians should stay off MySpace

Another story emerged this week about a presidential hopeful getting stung in the campaign's misinformed effort to exploit the social networking phenomenon.

This one involves John McCain, whose staffers set up a MySpace page that not only borrowed the designed of TechCrunch CEO Mike Davidson, without attribution, but also embedded a menu image directly from his server, thereby eating away at his brandwidth with every visitor to McCain's site.

Davidson responded with an "immaculate hack," by replacing the image they were using with another, with text in which McCain seems to be reversing his stance on gay marriage. "No server but my own was touched and no laws were broken," he points out.

To me, the most interesting point of this episode is contained in Davidson's comment that "I think the idea of politicians setting up MySpace pages and pretending to actually use them is a bit disingenuous." That's a polite way of putting it. I'd use the words "cynical" and "embarrassing" instead.

It's embarrassing to witness clueless politicians and their aides trying to "connect" with the MySpace generation this way, betraying themselves for the dinosaurs they truly are by trying to act cool in a medium they don't understand.

It's cynical, in some cases other than this McCain episode, for politicians to decry these sites one day and then campaign on them the next. The Shifted Librarian recently commented on the ironic positions of two other presidential candidates, "Duncan Hunter of California and Ron Paul of Texas, both Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives," who offered a bill that would have blocked student access to MySpace and similar sites on school and library computers. Yet both candidates -- or rather, their aides -- set up their own campaign pages there.

Politicians who don't grasp the culture of MySpace should stay off it.


Russell Rembrandt said...

Dangerous to start prescribing who can and who cannot use MySpace, et al. Surely the whole point of thre internet is its absolute democracy. Most MySpace users will be able to spot the insincerity of a cynical politician's space anyway.

Everest said...

They should also never perform rap!