Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Barack Obama MySpace Coup

I'm sure we weren't the only ones surprised to see that Barack Obama's MySpace friends dropped from 150,000 to 13,000 overnight. Was this some sort of political tactic? Delete all his supporters and watch them grow again? We've rlearned the real explanation. According to the Associated Press:
For the past two and a half years, the page has been run by an Obama supporter from Los Angeles named Joe Anthony. At first, that arrangement was fine with the Obama team, which worked with Anthony on the content and even had the password to make changes themselves.
Finally, the Obama camp wanted exclusive control of Obama's MySpace page, a move that has sparked a very interesting and potentially landmark digital rights question. The short of it: After years of Joe Anthony maintaining essentially a fan site, garnering 150,000 MySpace supporters, he wanted to be compensated for his efforts to the tune of nearly $50,000. Obama didn't want to pay and MySpace (a wholly owned subsidiary of News Corp.) intervened and handed the site right over. So, certainly this proves a valuable lesson to Mr. Anthony. Obviously, a MySpace page is on loan to the user and can be seized at any time. This is clearly stated in MySpace's Terms & Conditions: reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to reject, refuse to post or remove any posting (including private messages) by you, or to restrict, suspend, or terminate your access to all or any part of the MySpace Services at any time, for any or no reason, with or without prior notice, and without liability.
Regardless of legality, such a decision will no doubt have ramifications. It's certainly a deterrent to anyone interested in taking the time to build similar support sites of control can be revoked by the supportee at anytime without consideration for the work invested. Will this push viralroots efforts away from social networking sites and onto the web proper? If Mr. Anthony had a website instead of a MySpace page with a tool for measuring Obama support comparable to MySpace friends, would he or anyone else be in this situation?
On the flip side of the argument, if Obama gave in to Mr. Anthony's terms and paid him out his requested money, would it spawn a string of individuals maintaining such support sites for exploit and profit? An entire market could emerge of individuals speculating on future candidates and jumping to obtain their names on MySpace.

Read the Associated Press article at

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