March 28th, 2007
In a nice piece of investigative journalism, techPresident’s Josh Levy looked yesterday at Barak Obama’s YouTube viewer statistics and wondered if something didn’t quite add up: the candidate’s YouChoose channel has been viewed 35 times more than arch-enemy Hillary Clinton’s, but it looks as though the YouTube stats might be counting a lot of ghost runners as real people.
Something definitely SEEMS a little funny: for starters, there’s an odd disparity between the number of views of Obama’s channel (high) and the number of views of actual individual videos (significantly lower). Also, Josh credits techPresident reader Robert Ruszkowski with noticing that the number of channel subscribers hasn’t risen in line with the increase in channel views. So, either the same subscribers keep coming back to the channel page without watching videos very often (not typical behavior), or something’s fishy.
Josh demonstrates how you can boost channel views by automatically refreshing a page with a FireFox plug-in, but take a moment to travel back to the wilds of circa-1997 HTML with me: I bet you can do the same thing right quick with a meta refresh tag and a frameset. I remember talking with folks back in the way-on-back about how you could generate just about as many page views as you want if you have a few machines pinging away for a few days, and Josh’s FireFox trick just updates the idea.
If this does turn out to be an intentional attempt to pad the numbers (still most definitely an “if”), the obvious question is why. This kind of low-grade vandalism really doesn’t help the candidate all that much, it’s very likely to be discovered , and it’s sooooo going to be traceable (sweet IP numbers, yield up your secrets). Josh is far too responsible a journalist to speculate, and I’ll (mostly) follow his honorable lead, but it really wouldn’t look good if whoever comes scurrying out of the woodwork turns out to have some connection to the Obama campaign. One of the the other campaigns? Even MORE interesting, in a reverse-jujitsu sort of way…but most likely it’s some random guys who dreamed it all up while passing around a 2 a.m. dorm room bong.