Space invaders

by Henry on October 27, 2004

More on the troubled relationship between the Republican Party and technology. One of my colleagues complained to me this morning that her AOL Instant Messenger software had been hijacked by political spam. As I’ve seen for myself, every time she moves her cursor over the program, a loud, obnoxious movie-ad pops up, telling her in stentorian tones about the horrible things that John Edwards and the Evil Trial Lawyers are doing to doctors. On further investigation, it turns out that this particular box of delights has been brought to your desktop by the “November Fund,” a pro-Republican 527 created by the US Chamber of Commerce. Apparently, the fund has spent $2 million; according to the American Bar Association’s ABA Journal, they’re legally prohibited from buying attack ads on TV or radio, which probably explains why they’re spending money on pop-ups.[1] For my part, I sincerely hope that they raise and spend as much money as possible on Internet advertising. If I were a swing voter, I can’t imagine anything more likely to make me vote Democratic than having my desktop invaded by talking, dancing Republican adware.

fn1. The Internet is exempt from the ban on corporate funded advertising that specifically targets candidates.

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1

Barry Freed 10.27.04 at 8:26 pm

Wow, are they going to lose a lot of votes over that one. If I saw any indication that the Democrats were upto the kind of subterfuge and dirty tricks that the Republicans are in this election, I’d probably wonder if some hidden Democractic 527 was behind it.

2

nolo 10.27.04 at 8:58 pm

I got a spam e-mail from that outfit today with the subject line “Medical Crisis Threatens Ohio Women.” It’s all about how the Evil Trial Lawyers are scaring doctors out of Ohio. Now, it’s true that I’m a woman. But I’m also an attorney with a plaintiffs’ personal injury firm. Best part is that they sent it to my work e-mail, which is pretty easy to associate with my fairly well-known firm ;)

What assholes.

3

Doug 10.27.04 at 9:02 pm

Brad DeLong excerpts the Wall Street Journal saying that the November Fund got $3M in seed money from the US Chamber of Commerce but was only able to raise another $150K on top of that. A far cry from $10M. And if they’ve already spent $2M…

4

Henry 10.27.04 at 9:12 pm

Doug – thanks – my misreading of a NYT article on the subject – have amended the post to correct the error.

5

jif 10.27.04 at 10:03 pm

Wow. One wonders whether or not anyone over at the “November Fund” has ever been on the ‘internets’ before. Pop-ups positively make the top three on everyone’s “list of computer things that really piss me off.” Perhaps they should just spam us all with ads saying: gEt y0u’r V1agr’a, bE@sty GrLz, tr1al lawyerz BAD.

6

Robin Green 10.28.04 at 2:38 am

In the UK, I believe this type of thing would be technically illegal under the Computer Misuse Act, if (as it sounds) it involves non-consensual installation of software.

What kind of shady operators have they hired here?

7

John 10.28.04 at 5:12 am

In honor of that story, I made the below image. Feel free to use whenever and wherever you want.
http://www.bbpix.com/pix/republicansownzord.bmp

8

Sandriana 10.28.04 at 12:40 pm

Robin asks “What kind of shady operators have they hired here?”.

Republicans. HTH, HAND.

9

DJW 10.28.04 at 8:41 pm

[Henry] could be right, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Virtually all advertising is annoying, garish, intrusive, and time-consuming. Yet those who want to reach our eyes, ears and minds spend billions looking for new ways to do it, and even to subvert our explicit efforts to avoid it.

10

Nick Simmonds 10.29.04 at 6:22 am

I saw this mentioned on 11

Nick Simmonds 10.29.04 at 6:46 am

Ack. I don’t know if I’m more embarassed about the unclosed a tag or the extraneous apostrophe.

12

bellatrys 10.29.04 at 9:31 pm

I haven’t gotten it as popups, but I saw the ad on the AIM messenger prime real estate space, several times, and no corresponding Democratic advertising, and all the headlines with Virtue Party slants to them – tho’ this could be the newsfeeds that they’re subscribing to rather than AOL.

I asked around but got no intelligent answers, as to whether or not anyone knew of any particular Party affiliation on the part of the AOL CEOs, such as we have with FOX, Sinclair, Clear Channel. My recollections, back when I followed the internal politics of the tech sector, were all about the subordination of substance and improvement to style, and who was buying out whom, and I just don’t remember party politics being an issue back then.

But this feels definitely as if they are footsoldiers in the Hegemony these days…

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