For a time, both the campaign and Joe had mutual access. Soon after, MySpace launched a promotional campaign to direct traffic to the official candidate pages. The campaign allowed MySpace to promote this unofficial profile because, strictly speaking, there was no official presence. And so MySpace began featuring the profile in candidate promotions -- and the friends and workload grew.
We knew Joe had a full-time job already, and, early on, we floated the idea of moving to Chicago to work for us full-time (potential staffers were moving to Chicago and join the team at that time, and there were openings). I totally agree when Chris Bowers says that the New Media/online outreach efforts of campaigns should be a priority -- and we have built an operation here in Chicago and in the early states that reflects that posture.
But Joe seemed to prefer to volunteer part-time from the outside with the campaign to continue building the community. He said he was honored to help out, and we were honored to work with him. We worked through the complications that arose: letting Joe know that he shouldn't work on the site from work, educated him about the rules governing campaign promotion of official Senate material, etc. Joe was right with us, and things continued down the path towards making this unofficial community into an official space run with help from volunteers.
As we progressed, we began to work-up paperwork that would codify this arrangement -- ensuring that the campaign would have full access (what if someone put up an obscene comment during the day while Joe was at work?), and assuming the liability burden (legally, ethically, and politically) for what happened on the site.
At the same time, though, the community had skyrocketed. Nobody expected the grassroots to respond this campaign in such large numbers the way they have, and the rapid growth of the MySpace profile once the MySpace Impact Channel began promoting the various candidates is yet another example of the appeal of Barack. We were well over 100,000 friends, and the burden of administering such a profile became immense.
Unfortunately, at that point, Joe changed the password on the profile, and didn't give us the new one, like he had done in the past. This changed the previous dynamic, and we could no longer access the profile at a moment's notice if need be. We asked Joe what was needed to restore access, and subsequently we received the list of itemized financial requests that have been discussed elsewhere.
This made us uncomfortable. Every day, MySpace was driving tens of thousands of people to the page on the premise that this was more or less our "official" presence -- yet we had no access to the content on the page, and no ability to be responsive to the thousands of messages coming in from supporters seeking information or action from the campaign.
We talked to Joe and made clear that we truly wanted to incorporate the community into the campaign's official presence, but that if these financial demands were a precursor to the campaign having access at all, that we would need to start with an official profile separately and have MySpace promote that instead.
And so it became clear that we needed to have MySpace point people at something we had at least basic access to -- immediately. In MySpace, politicians, musicians, and other public figures have the right to their own name (www.myspace.com/barackobama, www.myspace.com/hillaryclinton, etc.), and so we asked MySpace for use of that URL and to ensure that any promotion of "official" profiles for candidates be directed to the new profile our team created.
The community of the 160,000 still exists, and we've made sure that MySpace will let Joe have access to the community he helped build. And we hope we can continue to work with him to make that as effective as it can be.
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