Well, our shiny metallic friends (and future overlords) can’t cast a ballot just yet, but you’ve got to love a story that starts off like this:
If Texas congressman Ron Paul is elected president in 2008, he may be the first leader of the free world put into power with the help of a global network of hacked PCs spewing spam, according to computer-security researchers who’ve analyzed a recent flurry of e-mail supporting the long-shot Republican candidate.
Sarah Lai Stirland’s Wired article has some excellent details about the spam-for-Paul effort, of which the actual campaign seems to have no knowledge (and which they would have been crazy to approve if they had):
Some participants in the online political world have long suspected Paul’s technically sophisticated fan base of manipulating online tools and polls to boost the appearance of a wide base of support. But the UAB analysis is the first to document any internet shenanigans.
The finding is significant, because Paul’s online support — as gauged by blog mentions, friends on social-networking sites such as MySpace and popularity in online polls — has garnered him wide mainstream print and television coverage, despite his relatively poor performance in offline polling.
Ron Paul supporters are the most persistent/relentless/verging-on-annoying online activists I’ve seen in quite a while (it ain’t for nothin’ that they’ve been banned from certain conservative blogs), but this new endeavour pushes things just a bit too far. Backlash alert! Thanks to tPrez for the initial tip.
I personally consider this most likely to be a toxic attack by another group outside the Ron Paul campaign. Actual RP spam is the last thing that the campaign actually wants, but would be great for any other campaign, as it would create backlash.
The RP campaign may be tech-savvy, but it’s not the only campaign in the race with skilled computer users in it. Other campaigns have more motivation to do it and have adequate resources to the task.
Hmmm, but it would also create backlash if you got caught. I’m going to vote for over-zealous supporters as the culprits, though of course that’s a guess. With RP holding in the low single-digits in the polls, other campaigns would have to be stark raving mad to try to launch a bot-net effort solely to discredit him.
Of course, being stark raving mad has rarely been an obstacle in politics.