Obama’s MySpace Meltdown

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The blogosphere is abuzz with news of a falling out between the campaign of Senator Barack Obama and Joe Anthony, an unpaid volunteer who created and maintained an unofficial fan page that has evolved into the candidate’s most popular site on MySpace, with more than 160,000 friends.

The conflict has been brewing for some time now, but ended messily on Tuesday when MySpace agreed to transfer the URL to Obama.

Micah Sifry of Techpresident writes:

How all this happened is a complicated tale that is still unfolding, and none of the parties involved–Anthony, the Obama online team, and the MySpace political operation–emerge from this story unscathed. Speaking on background, Obama campaign staffers are spreading word that Anthony just wanted a “big payday.” Anthony in turn has posted a missive on his blog (that was originally sent to me as an email) accusing the Obama team of “bullying…[and] rotten and dishonest” behavior. However one parses those accusations (more below), the Obama campaign’s reputation as the most net-savvy of 2008 has taken a big hit.

Something like this was bound to happen this year as top-down campaign structures have begun to collide with the new bottom-up energy of social networking and content sharing on the Web. Obama’s campaign strove for a hybrid model — Anthony retained control of the MySpace page, but Obama’s campaign also had access, and promoted the site. The advantages were obvious: free labor, a sense from the grassroots that they matter, and a populist PR spin. Then the campaign lost faith in Anthony and turned everything on its head. Yesterday, the campaign finally addressed the incident on Obama’s blog, but from the looks of the comments, he still has a long way to go to win back the trust of many would-be “friends.”

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