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Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign organization reportedly took over a MySpace page created by a once ardent California supporter and refused to pay Joe Anthony for the time and effort he invested in developing the successful page.
After listening to the Senator speak at the Democratic convention in 2004, Anthony, a Los Angeles resident, set up a MySpace page in support Obama's campaign at myspace.com/barackobama. Through the years Anthony invested time and energy into its development and built a community of 150,000 “friends” to the senator’s cause.
The Obama campaign got in touch with Anthony once his site -- which was vigorously attracting tens of thousands of MySpace "friends" -- appeared on its radar. For a while, a synergy apparently existed between the two.
Anthony, a paralegal, said in a letter to Micah at TechPresident, “People were actually registering to vote, making contributions, asking questions, putting banners on their pages, etc. I know this because I constantly received emails about this, and I replied to every single one to thank them or point them in the right direction if they needed more information”.
Then the Obama campaign asked to take over the page, and the relationship quickly turned ugly. Anthony requested financial reimbursement for the time he had put into building the site, but the campaign reportedly refused to pay up. It then approached MySpace to obtain control of the site.
Anthony says in his own blog posting on the matter: "I was blocked from the profile, and the content was altered to redirect traffic to the new, 'official' profile. MySpace has, in fact, granted access to the profile without my permission."
Apparently, either the Obama campaign or MySpace had second thoughts about the heavy-handed tactic. Last Thursday, Anthony reported on MySpace that he was once again in control of the profile page.
“This doesn't make up for what happened, and I'm unsure of how I'll proceed from here with this blank profile of 150,000 people,” he said. “At this point, maybe it would be best to delete it and move on.”
It's clear that the political apparatus is grappling with how to manage the latest technology and take advantage of the real-time access it provides to candidates.
"A MySpace profile or a clever ad on YouTube makes you feel closer to a candidate," said Marc Lamont Hill, a professor of American Studies at Temple University."
"It has a democratizing effect to it -- people may not be able to pay (US)$1,000 to have dinner with a candidate, but they still can feel like they know him" Hill told TechNewsWorld last Thursday.
For more on this please read: Should You Trademark Your Name?