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First POST: Defense

BY Miranda Neubauer and Nick Judd | Tuesday, February 21 2012

  • The New York Times notes how the presidential campaigns are using microtargeting as part of their advertising efforts:

    In recent primaries, two kinds of Republican voters have been seeing two different Mitt Romney video ads pop up on local and national news Web sites. The first, called “It’s Time to Return American Optimism,” showed the candidate on the campaign trail explaining how this was an election “to save the soul of America.” It was aimed at committed party members to encourage a large turnout. The second video ad, geared toward voters who have not yet aligned themselves with a candidate, focused more on Mr. Romney as a family man.

    In 2008, digital consultant Patrick Ruffini, whose firm Engage most recently worked on Tim Pawlenty's presidential campaign and is now working in at least one Senate race, wrote this piece for us on the hype around microtargeting:

    All that data gathered in one place may seem a little spooky, though the average credit card company already has it and then some. Ultimately, the approach is about greater sophistication and efficiency. It means the campaign may not wind up wasting time contacting people who are probably voting for McCain, and that when Obama aides or volunteers go out looking for supporters, they have a pretty good idea of what issues those potential supporters care about most. It's the political equivalent of what big corporate marketers have been doing for years: If you're a baby boomer living in Westchester County, N.Y., golf gear catalogs will show up in your mailbox, but if you're a 20-something living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, you might get a free trial of Spin magazine instead. Now the same goes for politics -- if you're in a demographic that makes you statistically likely to have children, Obama might send you an e-mail about education policy instead of one about taxes.

    Some things are true now that weren't true then — for example, Ruffini-circa-2008 pooh-poohs the idea of the Obama campaign sending different messages to different segments of an email list, but Teddy Goff and Joe Rospars told a roomful of people at Social Media Week on Friday that they now do exactly that. But the basic idea is the same.

  • Lisa Chan, the actress behind a Super Bowl ad from congressional candidate Pete Hoekstra that drew derision for its cultural stereotypes about Chinese people, has issued an apology on her Facebook page. In the apology, Chan states that it was “absolutely a mistake” and she feels “horrible about [her] participation.”

  • After New Jersey Governor Chris Christie defended his decision to lower the flag in honor of Whitney Houston on Twitter, he also responded to some criticisms of his decision to veto a bill in favor of same-sex marriage on Twitter by instructing users to read his veto message. One user had tweeted, "why are you only responding to flag issues and not your marriage equality veto? I don't get it." He replied, "Nothing more to say. My veto message expresses my position." There was also a stab at a Twitter campaign by ThinkProgress: "If you think @GovChristie should sign the marriage equality bill passed by the New Jersey Legislature RETWEET THIS." Sent late Thursday, it garnered somewhere over 50 retweets.

  • The Washington Post noted the Obama Campaign's use of the First Family in online ads. "“The value of the family is enormous,” said Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. “The more you know this family and the more you think of Barack Obama in these terms, the harder it is to vilify him.”"

  • An appearance last Thursday by Michelle Obama with Bo was a surprise for participants in a White House tour, and became live reality TV of sorts for Internet users. The White House encouraged followers to watch her surprise meeting on Twitter. For 78 minutes, she enthusiastically greeted visitors from across the country and around the world, and encouraged young and old visitors who wanted to pet Bo. She also greeted, but did not further comment to, one young man who was wearing a Ron Paul shirt. She joked with some young students that there would be a 50 question test after the tour, and encouraged others to do well in school and eat their vegetables.

  • The Guardian looked at the Obama Campaign's integration of its new central database with Facebook:

    Every time an individual volunteers to help out - for instance by offering to host a fundraising party for the president - he or she will be asked to log onto the re-election website with their Facebook credentials. That in turn will engage Facebook Connect, the digital interface that shares a user's personal information with a third party. Consciously or otherwise, the individual volunteer will be injecting all the information they store publicly on their Facebook page - home location, date of birth, interests and, crucially, network of friends - directly into the central Obama database. "If you log in with Facebook, now the campaign has connected you with all your relationships," a digital campaign organiser who has worked on behalf of Obama says.

    The Facebook API terms of service usually place limits on how much developers can do with the data they get from users.

  • The White House has launched BusinessUSA, intended to be a one-stop shop for small businesses to access government services.

  • The Obama campaign has been sending out e-mails to Pennsylvania supporters, asking them to submit their most damning recollections of Rick Santorum.

  • The House of Representatives created a new set of public standards for electronically naming legislative documents and legislators.

  • Peter Thiel, co-founder of Paypal, has donated an additional $1.7 million to the pro-Ron Paul Super PAC, Endorse Liberty. He had previously given about $2.6 million.

  • The Maine Republican Party admitted it made some errors while counting votes during recent caucuses there because some e-mails with tallies were caught by spam filters.

  • Ron Paul leads the Americans Elect draft for a third candidate. Stephen Colbert is ahead of Buddy Roemer in that hunt as well.

  • Sarah Palin has already been responding to the upcoming film Game Change on her website with a blog post titled "Here they go again", the LA Times notes.

  • CNN notes that in addition to Spreading Santorum and Spreading Romney, there are also Spreading Obama, Spreading Gingrich and Spreading Ron Paul sites, although the latter seems to be in support of Ron Paul.

  • In a column, former New York Times executive editor writes that the release of WikiLeaks cables did not constitute a fundamental change in the release of diplomatic information:

    But the idea that this was the opening of a floodgate has proved exactly wrong. In the immediate aftermath of the breach, several news organizations (including this one) considered creating secure online drop-boxes for would-be leakers, imagining that new digital Deep Throats would arise. But it now seems clear that the WikiLeaks breach was one of a kind — and that even lesser leaks are harder than ever to come by. .. Here’s the paradox the documentaries have overlooked so far: The most palpable legacy of the WikiLeaks campaign for transparency is that the U.S. government is more secretive than ever.

    WikiLeaks supporters recently collected a list of the most-cited WikiLeaks cables in news stories.

  • New federal guidelines suggest that automakers would be required to "make it impossible for drivers to perform many functions [on factory installed devices] while a vehicle is in motion, including: to send or look at text messages; browse the Internet; tweet or use social media such as Facebook; enter information in navigation systems; enter 10-digit phone numbers; or receive any type of text information of more than 30 characters unrelated to driving," according to the Washington Post.

  • A Democrat at a recent hearing on Capitol Hill called it "outrageous" that agents are building files on bloggers as part of the department's program to monitor social media sites.

  • The IRS is facing an increase in identity theft-based tax fraud through the web.

  • Danny Sullivan at MarketingLand and others responded to a report in the Wall Street Journal which suggested that Google was undermining privacy settings in the Safari browser on iPhones. Google said it had begun removing cookies from users' browsers. Members of Congress and advocacy groups criticized Google.

  • The Federal Trade Commission issued a report stating that the makers of mobile applications aimed at children were not being clear about privacy issues and data collection.

  • An Occupy Wall Street protester writes about receiving a subpoena for his tweets related to his arrest on the Brooklyn Bridge.

  • An Occupy Wall Street supporter has submitted an application to the Federal Election Commission for an Occupy Wall Street political action committee. "[I was] watching ["The Colbert Report"] and I thought, 'Wouldn't be nice if Occupy had a PAC,' and ... like a lightbulb, it came to me!" Thornton told a CBS station in Atlanta.

  • Anonymous said it had hacked websites for the Federal Trade Commission's consumer protection business center and the National Consumer Protection Week in a protest of ACTA, replacing the sites with a violent German-language video satirizing the agreement. According to CBS News, the video showed a home computer user being shot to death by alleged ACTA enforcers for emailing a photograph to his mother. Twitter accounts and websites linked to Anonymous announced they would be regularly launching attacks on Fridays under the hashtag #FFF.

  • The Justice Department has added more counts of copyright infringement and fraud to the Megaupload indictment.

  • Techdirt notes that the MPAA has hired four former governmental employees.

  • A federal judge has ordered a Missouri school to stop blocking to sites like the "It Gets Better" campaign, The Trevor Project, and the Gay Straight Alliance Network.

  • Another federal judge threw out a Louisiana law that banned certain sex offenders from Facebook and other social networking sites.

  • The Texas state government is running a website ProtectYourTexasBorder.com to publicize the assertions by farmers and others that violence from Mexico's drug war has spilled over the border and to critique the Obama Administration's policy on the issue.

  • The New York World wrote about the process involved for New York City to acquire the top-level domain .nyc.

  • In his State of the City address, New York City Comptroller John Liu promised that his office would "establish a telephone hotline for city residents to report government waste," and a companion website. He also said that he would call for systems to track both information technology projects and government subcontracting, the New York Times reported.

  • Elected officials and business and civic leaders have created a new group in New York in support of Governor Andrew Cuomo's plans for campaign finance reform.

  • The New York Public Library is asking New Yorkers to provide feedback on future plans for the library.

  • New York City plans to install new sensors at water outfalls in order to be able to monitor water quality more effectively.

  • Mashable highlights the U.S. Army's use of Pinterest.

  • Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has rejected media organizations' requests for cell phone records of his lieutenant governor's state-owned cell phone after Patrick's second-in-command was involved in a car accident.

  • A Florida juror was given a three-day jail sentence for sending a Facebook message to a defendant.

  • An online gambling program in Washington D.C. has ended over criticism that it had been approved without sufficient public comment or scrutiny.

  • Facebook is being accused of helping Nicolas Sarkozy with his new Facebook page.

  • A New York Times reporter is still crowdsourcing the identification of a Libyan cluster bomb.

  • Google has responded to European proposals for a "right to be forgotten."

  • An EU-funded project will let citizens compare and reduce their energy consumption via TV, PC and social network applications.

  • A London city watchdog has criticized the organizers of the ticketing system for the summer olympics for lack of transparency. The London Olympic organizing committee is exempt from Freedom of Information laws as private entity. The system has suffered repeated computer problems.

  • A British local Labour councillor was suspended by her party for liking a comment on Facebook that called for the Irish Republican Army to "bomb" the Conservative Party Conference.

  • A British woman has pleaded not guilty over an alleged racist rant on a tram. She was caught when a video of the incident was posted on YouTube. It has been viewed 11 million times.

  • Website managers for the tourist website of the Welsh town Betws-y-Coed found that users had typed in 364 different misspellings of the town's name in search engines.

  • At least two parties running in an upcoming Indian state election are promising free computers or tablets to students. The New York Times notes that in the case of one of the parties, "This marks a big break for the party, given that it questioned the usefulness of computers during the 2007 election."

  • Yesterday, Internet services were disrupted again in Iran. Virtual private networks, which many Iranians use to get around government restrictions, were reportedly not functioning under the new round of service disruptions.

  • Iranian censors have blocked websites sympathetic to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ahead of the country's election, the Guardian reports.

  • Chinese Internet users have been urging the Supreme Court to spare a 31-year-old death row convict, once one of China's richest women.

  • Reuters writes about the confusing trademark rules that technology companies are facing in China.

  • German authorities are warning that the number of Islamists being radicalized through online sources is rising. The German government is also launching a new anti-addiction effort that also targets addiction to the Internet or online games. The South Korean government is considering new laws against excessive game playing and Internet addiction as well.

  • Poland's Prime Minister has said the country will not ratify ACTA and that signing the treaty was mistake. Slovenia and Lithuania have also halted ratification.

With Raphael Majma

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