Yesterday at EQV Analytics we published (and reprinted later here at Daily Kos) an exposé of the malware-riddled trojan horse website paid for and operated by the Republican National Committee: Vote.GOP. The site pretended to offer ‘voter assistance’ nationwide (online help with registering to vote or applying for an absentee-by-mail ballot), while in fact hoovering up site visitors’ personal data for psychographic profiling purposes.
Nowadays profiling happens, and there’s not much anyone can do about it (in fact, as a Daily Kos reader you’re profiled like crazy by many organizations, campaigns, and companies). But what was uniquely horrible about Vote.GOP’s effort was that its cover story (We’re here to help you, dear voter) was so badly FUBARed that using the site to request an absentee ballot was likely to get your name removed from the voter list (here in North Carolina, anyway; we didn’t evaluate its service for residents of other states because we lack expertise in their election laws and procedures).
We published our exposé in the wee hours of Monday morning. It triggered quite a lot of discussion on Twitter, which in turn drove a lot more eyeballs to view it. And an impressive number of those eyeballs came from Washington, D.C. which, as the #1 source of our site traffic yesterday, outnumbered the next four U.S. cities combined. We were particularly happy to see tons of traffic from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s network. Oh to have been a fly on the wall in some of those conference rooms!
The RNC remained predictably silent as interest in the story grew throughout the day. But early last night it responded in the best way possible: by turning off all of the site’s malicious ‘voter services’ — every last one of them — and disappearing every trace of them from the site.
The Vote.GOP website remains online today, but only as a withered husk of its former self, offering nothing of interest to anyone — no longer a voter suppression honeypot (you can view a video of its former operation at the very bottom of our exposé, here). And if it pops back up (under the same name or any other) we’ll smack the shite out of it again.
We’ll never know how many people Vote.GOP managed to disenfranchise. If someone you know might have used its ‘service,’ urge him or her to check their voter registration now. Then turn that into a teachable moment, with love.
Postscript: I was surprised this morning to receive an email from a reader who took EQV to task for interfering in an operation whose disenfranchised victims were likely to all be “right-wingers.”
If you see something, say something. Our Twitter DM is always open for tips (@AnalyticsEqv).