I was sent this link from a friend. It seems that Obama's campaign has usurped the "unofficial" Myspace profile, is claiming it is now the 'official" campaign site and is refusing to compensate the man who spent the last two years working on it. I have spoken to this person via web and from what I can tell this is true. See below for more.
The links to start off with.
www.myspace.com/barackobama Here is the creator's myspace page
Here is the blurb you see when you search for Obama on myspace:
MySpace - Barack Obama
Unofficial profile page for Barack Obama includes news clips and comments from MySpace friends. When you click on the site it now says the "Official Myspace Profile".
Here is the link to the website who has confirmed this happened with Obama's campaign. Here
Here is what has happened:
Joe Anthony created an Obama fan site in 2004 when Obama was elected to Senate. This site then became a hub for informing people about Obama and a lot of people on Myspace added the site to their friend list. When Obama threw his hat into the ring to run for President the site already had about 30,000 friends. When Obama started running the campaign contacted Anthony with regards to the site:
Frim the second link:
At first, all was rosy between Anthony and the Obama campaign. Chris Hughes, one of the campaign's first internet staffers (and a co-founder of Facebook.com), emailed Anthony through the MySpace page and both sides were pleased to connect with each other. For several weeks, they collaborated on a daily basis, with the Obama campaign offering advice to Anthony on how to improve the site, sharing content with him, helping him place a fundraising widget on the site, etc. He in turn gave the campaign password access to the profile in case they wanted to tweak it quickly, but they made little use of it and relied mainly on Anthony to maintain the site.
Now as you notice Joe gave the campaign the password to the site to help the campaign out. Time moves on and Obama gets more notice and then the following starts to happen:
But sometime in the middle of March things began to go awry. On March 17, MySpace announced the creation of the "Impact Channel," which aimed to focused attention on the presidential race, and the Obama campaign had them use Anthony's Obama profile as the site the Impact Channel pointed to. As you can see from TechPresident's tracking page, Obama started gaining friends on MySpace at a much faster pace, hitting 80,000 a few days later. Anthony's workload began to grow. A few weeks later, when Obama's picture was featured on MySpace's "Cool New People" box on its home page (Hillary Clinton is there now), everything exploded. Obama's friend total barocketed from 100,000 to 140,000 in a week. Meanwhile, Chris Hughes had handed the MySpace portfolio to a new campaign hire, Scott Goodstein, who came to Chicago with tons of experience running social network-focused efforts for an impressive array of progressive groups and causes.
At this point Anthony's desire to help Obama started to take several hours a week to keep up with, and he was still doing all the work of maintaining the site for free. Anthony requested the campaign to reimburse him financially for his time. At this point both parties involved thought that the campaign should take over the site but here is where things go bad.
For the past few weeks, the campaign decided it would be better if they just took control of the profile and we decided to try to come to some agreement. By this time, I didn't have quite as much respect for the campaign guys, and frankly felt like I was just being used. They knew about this profile the entire time, and really just waited until it got enough media coverage and friends request so they could step in and bully me out of it.
The last few weeks were just insane. They kept scheduling phone conferences with me, I would wake up early that day after barely sleeping the night before, I'd take time off work, etc. and each after another would be postponed at the last minute. This went on for weeks.
It got to the point where I didn't feel comfortable turning the profile over to the campaign unless they paid for it. This was largely symbolic. The same campaign that inspired me to work so hard to build this community, the same campaign whose underlying message stresses "the power of the individual to have an impact on politics", was constantly downplaying my role in this,
Now from what the Obama people have said is that they were "worrying about a potential train wreck" since there had been some "minor errors" in Barack's bio on the site. Remember though that they had access to the site and could change anything at will so any errors could be corrected by either party.
Obama insiders see things very differently. They agree that at first all was copacetic, and that Anthony was only helping the Obama campaign with his site. But as attention grew to MySpace, they started to worry about a potential train wreck. A Newsweek story noting that Anthony had some minor facts wrong about Obama's biography made them nervous. And while he complied with every request they made about content on the site--keeping a prominent disclaimer stating that it was an unofficial page, removing a link to Obama's Senate podcasts because it might be an FEC violation, culling a "friend" from a Larry Flynt profile page--they chafed nonetheless
After several conversations they agreed that they would pay him a one time consultant fee. His offer was the following:
Anthony's request to be compensated for all the work he was putting into Obama's Myspace page--anywhere from five to ten hours a day--was the final straw, apparently. After kicking around various ideas including hiring him or making him a consultant, the Obama people asked Anthony to propose a one-time consulting fee. In exchange he would give them control of the page, with credit for the work he had put into it. "I went for a four mile walk to think about it," he told me, continuing:
I considered the time I had put into it from January 1st of this year, not counting the previous two years. It was about $39,000. Plus I asked that if any fees were to be paid to MySpace by the campaign up to that point in time, those should be shared with me, up to $10,000. There was no counter-offer. They said they didn't have any money.
Now we ALL know how much money Obama has and how much he has paid to consultants and pollster already so this is a blatant lie on the part of his campaign. However instead of severing ties and starting their own site this is what the campaign did.
Whatever the case, at this point it appears the Obama people simply decided that they would get control of the myspace.com/barackobama url by going around Anthony and getting MySpace to lock down his access to it. In their view, Anthony was violating MySpace's terms of service by falsely representing himself as Obama, and thus they didn't have to pay him anything. The worst that would happen, they reasoned, is that they would have to rebuild the candidate's network of friends.
And this is indeed what is happening now. At the request of the Obama campaign, the url myspace.com/barackobama has been taken away from Joe Anthony and put in their hands. Jen Psaki, the deputy press director for Obama, says: There is an incredible amount of support for Obama's candidacy on MySpace and our goal is to ensure that we are being as responsive as possible to the community. Because MySpace and the community treated the work as official and due to sheer volume, our campaign staff wanted make sure users had direct access to the campaign. We support the MySpace communty, and look forward to building our relationship.
THEY STOLE HIS WEBSITE FROM HIM!! On the website Joe always stated it was an unofficial site and as such was not representing himself as Obama at all. There are tons of fansites on myspace so this claim is patently false. The proof is in the blurb I put at the top which explicitly states that the myspace page for Barack is an unofficial one.
So what did Myspace say about this issue:
We are firmly committed to empowering our users and protecting their rights. The situation with Senator Obama's profile became an unfortunate instance where a user gave a campaign functional control of a profile and the relationship between the two broke down. We felt under the circumstances that Senator Obama had the right to the URL containing his name and to the official campaign content that was provided, but that the user should retain the basic elements of the profile, including the friends who had been accumulated. Now that each Presidential candidate controls his/her own MySpace page, we don't expect this to be a problem again.
So myspace went along with Obama even though the page was never an official site. There are some questions about containing official campign content. If I post a you tube of a candidate speech is this official content? Something to think about.
So where does this leave Joe:
From his Myspace blog
I was accused of using this profile for commercial purposes. I was threatened that I would be responsible if the profile was deleted (they even followed up via email to be sure I knew it was my fault!) The conversation really was about them taking control of the profile. There was no counter offer, or anything to suggest that they had any intention of paying me anything at all.
At this point there was no way I would turn this community over to them and would rather keep it as an unofficial site and keep doing what I've been doing. I expressed this, and they said that if I did not turn the profile over to them immediately, they would delete it and all of my hard work would go to waste. They reiterated this several times, and repeated "You are the one making the decision to kill this profile". In fact, I responded each time, that I have no plans to delete this profile, and that decision would be between them and Myspace. (I even added that he sounded like Bush telling congress/senate it was their decision not to fund the troops. How hypocritical is this!)
Finally, Chris from the campaign emailed me, indicating that Myspace needed my consent to give them access to the profile. I replied that Mypace did not have my consent to grant access to the profile to anyone.
An hour or so later, 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.
This was not about money and I don't believe that one person who has interacted with me via the Obama profile over the past couple of years would be able to say that my efforts were anything but sincere. This was about holding a campaign to their message, about acknowledging my work, and taking this community seriously.
I think I did the right thing. I wanted a fair outcome for everyone, but unfortunately that's not what happened. In fact, I think this was enormously offensive to both me and the Myspace community. I could understand Myspace/Newscorp doing this, but didn't think Obama's campaign could have the audacity to do such a thing.
Apparently the message here is, as an individual, if you have too big of an impact, you're just a liability.
This is how Obama lost my vote, and one of his strongest supporters.
p.s. Like I said, I'm passionate about this right now. All this work, all this progress is down the drain, and I'm absolutely heart-broken.
I will clarify a seeming inconsistency here regarding the profile access. From Joe:
Initially, yes I did give them access.
At some point, I decided to no longer give them access until we had an agreement (which at that point there was no request for compensation).
The relationship became more complex, especially when the campaign began working with Myspace, and I didn't want to be solely responsible for the profile in the event that it was phished or hacked, etc. This was just out of caution.
I'll be happy to answer anyone's questions
Joe is getting several comments from friends who are stating a few things:
- That Obama could not have known about this as he would not treat people this way.
- That Obama is an ass and has lost their vote. However 140,000 people or so are no longer friended to that website and it will be interesting to see their responses when they find out why.
I think that Obama will have some explaining to do to his net supporters. I also think this may affect his appeal to younger people. If people get the impression that they are considered dispensable labor to a candidate then they will be less likely to work for them.
Please contact Obama's campain with regards to this. Joe is being unfairly treated and deserves to have some compensation for his time and efforts. At the very least they should give him his site back and build a new one. I think $25 million dollars could buy Obama a very nice website that was not stolen.
Thank you for reading.
Update: The blurb on myspace now states this as his official page but as Google still has this posted:
MySpace - Barack Obama - 2:48am Unofficial profile page for Barack Obama includes news clips and comments from MySpace friends.
Also all of his comments on the site are from last night and today. So they are changing the site to make it the official one and get rid of anything showing it was anything else.;
UPDATE 2: From Joe's blog:
Myspace hasn't returned the old page to me yet. I emailed to follow up, no response yet.
I'm still not sure what I should do with it. I think I'll post these blogs there, and ask the community to help decide a positive way to make use of the page.
Now I must decide if I should go into work and try not to think about this, or attempt to take a vacation day and defend myself on the iNtErnEtz all day. Not much sleep last night, and didn't eat dinner, so I should probably stay home and relax.
Thank you all for your emails and comments. Your support is helping me get through this, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.
So myspace so far has failed to return old profile with the 160,000 friends to Joe and is therefore not keeping their part of the agreement so far. Traveling around the blogosphere there is a lot of press on this and the feelings are mixed. One person pointed out that there is no one he could be in Obama's extended myspace network but when he clicked on the page it said he was. Apparently he flushed his cookies and it stayed the same. Not sure what that means but it is interesting. I have not received a response from the message I sent them over the Myspace page.
Update 3: Let me address a few things in the comments.
1. I was going to ask Edwards people to repost this if it had scrolled because they are the only people I know well enough to ask to use their diary to repost mine. It made the rec and the front page (which blows me away but thanks kos) so the point became moot.
- The total reimburement Joe requested was $39,000 and he requested the campaign share in paying any fees up to $10,000. He states when they asked him for a one time amount he had no idea what to offer and came up with those numbers. The campaign refused and then usurped the site.
- Obama's campaign could easily have made another myspace page and had Joe link his to that so they could get the benefit of both.
- I am not sure but if anyone was friended to the Obama page on myspace before can you click your link to see where it takes you. Since the ID still appears to be the same I think it would take you to the new page. I notice on the Obama myspace they are friending a bunch of people today and yesterday but not sure if that is from this or not. Thanks.
Also, I will say this. I think Obama is great at his job as Senator and I think he will make a great president in a few years. I just think Edwards is what this country needs now. I have nothing against him. I think his campaign made a huge mistake and this needs to be addressed. That is why I stated this is not a hit diary. Check my comments if you would, I have never said anything negative about Obama as a person.
Update 4 From Mydd This post sort of clears up some of the legality. There are links to the case on the site. Check them out.
was retained as an expert witness for a civil trial here in Michigan last fall, in which a website developer was suing the Macomb County Sheriff's Department over payment he felt that they owed him for developing the Dept's website.
It was a long, messy, complicated case with lots of stupidity on both sides.
A website developer took on a volunteer deputy position with the Macomb County Sheriff's Department. The department had, at the time, a very basic website which didn't even have it's own domain name (it was an offshoot of the county libraries' domain, I believe). The developer volunteered to revamp the sheriff department's website, complete with it's own domain name (macombsheriff.com). He then spent the next two years working on the site, developing it into an impressive MySQL/PHP-based CMS with all the trimmings. After two years of working on it without pay, he decided to start charging the sheriff's department for his continuing work. They refused to pay, negotiations broke down, things got ugly
This was the point I came into the picture.
The civil case finally went to court last fall; in the end, the jury denied every one of the developers' claims (but neither did they award anything to the Sheriff's dept which had counter-sued for legal costs).
The crux of the case was that no matter what other factors may have been involved, in the end, the developer had VOLUNTEERED his time and effort. At no point did anyone EVER agree, in writing, verbally, or even by implication, to pay him anything.
Here's a few links for anyone interested in finding out more about this case (please note that there's a LOT more to the story than what I've stated or what's in these links, but I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to discuss publicly even now, so I'm keeping it to public record material
I don't know whether there were any photos of Obama but I'm assuming that there were--granted, as a public figure, this is probably not a problem. However, the second point above ("impersonating") is a different story. Now, again, he may have had disclaimers saying "unofficial" and "I'm not Obama" all over the site, but the URL itself still reads "myspace.com/barackobama".
Again, whether it would be WISE of the Obama campaign to pay the guy off is a different argument, but they're not under any obligation to do so legally or morally.
A person's time is worth exactly what someone else is willing to pay them, no more, no less, unless mandated otherwise legally.
For the record, I've been torn between Richardson, Edwards and Obama up until now (though Richardson's debate performance didn't help him in my opinion), so I'm hardly an Obama cheerleader, but this incident doesn't do anything to increase or decrease my opinion of him as a candidate (at least so far...I'll have to see how he responds to it going forward).
Update 5: Final update on this diary.
Click here Joe Rospars the New Media Director posted on this site re: this issue. His diary follows the timeline as set out by Anthony and stated the following:
We knew Joe had a full-time job already, and, early on, we floated the idea of moving to Chicago to work for us full-time (potential staffers were moving to Chicago and join the team at that time, and there were openings). I totally agree when Chris Bowers says that the New Media/online outreach efforts of campaigns should be a priority -- and we have built an operation here in Chicago and in the early states that reflects that posture.
But Joe seemed to prefer to volunteer part-time from the outside with the campaign to continue building the community. He said he was honored to help out, and we were honored to work with him. We worked through the complications that arose: letting Joe know that he shouldn't work on the site from work, educated him about the rules governing campaign promotion of official Senate material, etc. Joe was right with us, and things continued down the path towards making this unofficial community into an official space run with help from volunteers.
As we progressed, we began to work-up paperwork that would codify this arrangement -- ensuring that the campaign would have full access (what if someone put up an obscene comment during the day while Joe was at work?), and assuming the liability burden (legally, ethically, and politically) for what happened on the site.
We talked to Joe and made clear that we truly wanted to incorporate the community into the campaign's official presence, but that if these financial demands were a precursor to the campaign having access at all, that we would need to start with an official profile separately and have MySpace promote that instead.
And so it became clear that we needed to have MySpace point people at something we had at least basic access to -- immediately. In MySpace, politicians, musicians, and other public figures have the right to their own name (www.myspace.com/barackobama, www.myspace.com/hillaryclinton, etc.), and so we asked MySpace for use of that URL and to ensure that any promotion of "official" profiles for candidates be directed to the new profile our team created.
The community of the 160,000 still exists, and we've made sure that MySpace will let Joe have access to the community he helped build. And we hope we can continue to work with him to make that as effective as it can be.
At the end of the day, this is all new for everyone -- this Joe, that Joe, and everyone participating or commenting on it. We're flying by the seat of our pants, and establishing new ways of doing things every day. We're going to try new things, and sometimes it's going to work, and sometimes it's not going to work. That's the cost and that's the risk of experimenting. Joe launched this profile for all the right reasons, and for a while grew it with us.
Per Joe A.'s myspace blog Obama himself has called him: Joe's blog is linked at the top of this diary.
I just received a phone call from Barack Obama himself.
He expressed his appreciation and we agreed that there is something to be learned by everyone involved at this point. (Frankly, I was a little surprised by the call, and was too nervous to remember any exact quotes)
I assured him that this is just a horrible thing that happened and obviously he wasn't responsible and shouldn't be held responsible. It's his campaign that perhaps mismanaged this whole thing. He of course stands by his campaign, but again. . . much to be learned by all.
I'm sure he has mixed feelings in speaking with me about this, but it was nice of him to call, and quite an honor to finally speak to him!
I guess I have mixed feelings as well, but it was still a great honor.
I urge you all to consider this situation carefully. It'll take time for me to work this out and decide if I will personally continue to support Obama, regardless of how I feel about his campaign's handling of this situation.
It's not right what they did to me and this profile, but it's also wrong to let this change your views of Barack Obama as a candidate.
After all it was Obama that inspired me to do all this.
What a day. I'll keep you posted. .
I still think the best way this could have been resolved would have been for the campaign to create a whole new site with the url of barackobamaforpresident or some such. They could have thanked Joe, had him link his site to theirs and problem solved. However, I am glad that Obama called him and I hope the campaign does better in the future.