Obama, The Jewish Lobby, and the Perils of Web 2.0
One of Barack Obama’s key advantages in building grassroots support, especially among young people usually not apt to vote, has been his innovative use of the latest Web techniques, including the integration of social networking technologies. Not only did he lap the field in getting “friends” on Facebook and MySpace but he actually hired the guy who invented Facebook to work for him. This translated into a viral campaign and certainly boosted a staggering fundraising haul. Obama may have, as Micah Sifry suggests, built something that will sustain itself even after the campaign is over.
The down side of this, as anyone who has run a blog with open comments knows, any yahoo can put whatever they want on the site and some will naturally blame the site host for those comments. Charles Johnson knows that better than perhaps anyone, as one of the fabled Four Horsemen of the Ablogalypse and the owner of perhaps the most controversial comments section of the Right Blogosphere.
Johnson has joined John Hinderacker, Pam Gellar, seeDubya (at Michelle Malkin), Carl in Jerusalem, Stacy McCain, Doug Ross and many, many others in decrying an anti-Semitic screed on “How the Jewish Lobby Works” that appeared on the site for several hours until a blogstorm erupted and the site moderators took that down and apparently started a major effort to scrub the site for other potentially embarrassing content. Which, naturally, spawned charges of a cover-up.
Danziger also has several good suggestions for Team Obama and any other institutional site which allows diaries and comments. Striking a balance between an energetic, open discussion and protecting the brand is difficult. MyObama has leaned too far towards the former and is apparently now correcting course. They’ve certainly got the resources to do that and they would have been foolish not to at this stage. And, it would seem, the McCain campaign needs to follow suit. The fact of the matter is that most people have no clue how these sites work and it’s far too easy to demagogue these incidents to take the risk of an absolute free-for-all under your logo if you’re running for high office.
Yet another reason to monitor what’s being posted on one’s site.