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"House Aide Resigns Over Fake Blog Posts":

The Washington Post reports:

A top aide to U.S. Rep. Charles Bass resigned Tuesday after disclosures that he posed as a supporter of the Republican's opponent in blog messages intended to convince people that the race was not competitive.

Operators of two liberal blogs traced the postings to the House of Representatives' computer server. Bass' office traced the messages to his policy director, Tad Furtado, and issued a statement announcing Furtado's resignation Tuesday....

Posting as IndyNH and IndieNH, Furtado professed support for Democrat Paul Hodes but scoffed at a poll showing him tied with Bass and suggested Democrats should invest their time and money elsewhere.

"I am going to look at the competitive race list to figure out where to send another mydd.com/netroots donation and maybe help out in other ways," IndieNH wrote. "Maybe CT or NY for me _ they are at least close by. Anyone interested in pooling NH efforts for some of those races?" ...

Thanks to Adam Bonin, who posted about this on a discussion list that I'm on.

Green Glenwald:
Who would ever do such a thing?
9.26.2006 9:01pm
Positive Dennis (mail):
Who would ever do such a thing? How about someone who does not know that the internet is not as anonymous as many think.

Positive Dennis
9.26.2006 9:55pm
Adam B. (mail) (www):
Among other things, this violates all sorts of House rules regarding the use of government property for electioneering.

IP addresses: we log them, and we can trace them.
9.26.2006 10:12pm
Rich Rostrom (mail):
Dishonest, a waste of time, and, oh yes, stupid. If I was going to do serious sockpuppetry, I'd buy a laptop computer (for cash) and do all my posting from wi-fi hotspots.
9.26.2006 10:22pm
Jeremy T:
This is just all very silly.

There's not a damn thing wrong with what the guy did.
9.26.2006 10:48pm
tbf:
These guys should consider using tor.
9.26.2006 10:48pm
Jack S. (mail) (www):
hmm, political policy director. Probably has a hard time turning the computer on let alone doing something as bright as using tor or making sure he can't be traced all the way down to the MAC address.

They should try techniques like Russian organized criminals who just pay big bucks to the real techies.
9.26.2006 10:53pm
Assistant Village Idiot (mail) (www):
As with all these shenanigans that involve people dissembling for effect and masquerading as something else - whether on the internet or some other way - there is a danger that catching a few, and putting in "strict guidelines" will create the false impression that the matter is now under control. Caveat lector.
9.26.2006 10:54pm
Redman:
I don't see the issue either, other than the mis use of government property. How is this different from calling Rush Limbaugh and claiming to be something you aren't?
9.26.2006 11:32pm
Ned Pike:
Stupid? Yes and then some. Actually, that's some weapons-grade stupid. You just want to slap him across the forehead and scream "McFly!!!"

[/bleedin' amateurs]
9.26.2006 11:55pm
Barry P. (mail):
"It's such a fine line between stupid and clever"
- David St. Hubbins
9.27.2006 1:45am
Lev:
Green Glenwald

Yeah, who.
9.27.2006 2:52am
lucia (mail) (www):
How is this different from calling Rush Limbaugh and claiming to be something you aren't?

Not much. If Furtado had phoned Rush Limbaugh claiming to be "IndieNH", Rush's people might have noticed caller ID revealed the call came from the US house of representatives, and also discovered it was actually placed by a top aide to a US Congressman.

Chances are Furtado knows about callerID. Chances are he doesn't know about IP addresses. That's why he cooked up a stupid scheme to post at liberal blog sites instead of phone in liberal radio talk show hosts!
9.27.2006 10:36am
anonVCfan:
Right... I think this says more about the credibility of anonymous internet posts than anything else.

(yes, I get the irony)
9.27.2006 10:50am
Christopher Fotos (mail) (www):
This is so dishonest not to mention idiotic. It's also depressing to see some commenters react to dishonesty by asking "what's the big deal."
9.27.2006 10:58am
Revonna LaSchatze:
It's also depressing to see some commenters react to dishonesty by asking "what's the big deal."

I suspect a lot of commenters are not just "anonymous" in failing to provide their true identity, but also have an agenda.

Utilizing the cover-your-tracks techniques listed above, I'm guessing that commenters at plenty of the blogs I read -- Althouse, for one -- just make shit up about who they are and what they know and do. That's why I have a big problem with MSM lazily relying on the tone of blog comments to gauge the public mood.

If the NYT is reading Althouse comments for an idea of how regular Midwesterners think on issues -- as they have several times pulled quotes from the comments -- they're easy to play.

Still, it all comes out in the end, I think.
9.27.2006 11:26am
JosephSlater (mail):
Reason #57 why I post under my real name. Although I don't flatter myself by believing that many people care what I think or who I am, I also don't flatter myself by believing that I know enough to successfully hide who I am on the off chance somebody did care.

I've also read (on the internet, probably in posts by anonymous bloggers and/or commentors) that there's an issue with folks being paid to intervene on certain sides in blog discussions, or even to try to kill some debates by making them really unpleasant.
9.27.2006 12:04pm
anonVCfan:
My question is why people take anonymous comments so seriously. Anonymous stuff on the internet is about as reliable as bathroom graffiti, yet no one takes the latter category seriously or gets all sanctimonious when it is revealed that the number scrawled on the wall does not, in fact, lead to a good time.

"IndieNH" could be anyone. People reading "IndieNH's" posts should have taken them with the appropriate grain of salt.
9.27.2006 12:25pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Anyone who believes the identity of anyone else on USENET/BLOGS and most of cyberspace has bought three copies of the Brooklyn Bridge, two of them in Bayonne.
9.27.2006 1:01pm
godfodder (mail):
A more curious issue, and one as yet unasked, is "Why did they ever investigate these posts?" They really don't seem all that interesting or unusual. What tipped them off? Do they routinely check IP addresses on every poster? How did this tempest in a teapot come to happen?

I can't help but think that something more weird than sock-puppetry went on.
9.27.2006 1:08pm
sammler (mail) (www):
Of course, the same comments made about blog commenters could also apply to the sources of most anecdotes in big-media stories; there is no way to check that the "man on the street" is who he claims to be, or has had the experiences he describes.

In addition, some people get to provide more than their fair share of anecdotes...
9.27.2006 1:11pm
Adam (mail) (www):
Godfodder, here's what the site's hosts have said:
To Laura Clawson and Michael Caulfield, who run the Blue Granite and NH-02 Progressive blogs, respectively, IndieNH stuck out right away.
"You see this all the time on political blogs, some elaborate act where someone says, 'Now, I hate to say something against a Democrat, but . . . '" Clawson said, who blogs under the name "Miss Laura." "So you develop an eye for it. And this poster definitely tripped all the wires."

Caulfield, too, was suspicious of IndieNH from the start. His statements seemed naive yet knowledgeable, Caulfield said. He knew how to check on votes Bass had taken, for instance, but pretended not to know that certain provisions had been attached to those votes. So Caulfield traced the poster's internet provider address - and found that it led to the U.S. House of Representatives.

"At first I didn't believe it, or I thought it must have been a mistake," said Caulfield, who is known as "Keener" online. "It just sounds crazy. It sounds absolutely crazy."

But when IndieNH popped up on Clawson's site, too, her search also led to Congress. She and Caulfield also saw internet searches IndieNH did, including "Hodes and gay marriage" and "Hodes and taxes."

Both bloggers were fairly certain only one office in the House of Representatives would even know who Paul Hodes was. So they both watched IndieNH's postings and often responded.
9.27.2006 1:42pm
Third Party Beneficiary (mail):
I'm with Redman and anonVCfan -- other than constituting a misuse of government property (and presumably time), there's nothing wrong with this. "But it's dishonest!" the critics will cry. To which I would reply, "Yeah, and so is telling your wife that those jeans don't make her look fat." Until the conduct affirmatively rises to the level of fraud or criminal impersonation, there's nothing wrong with pretending to be someone/something you're not.
9.27.2006 3:12pm
Revonna LaSchatze:
Thank God
9.27.2006 3:21pm
duglmac (mail):
The interesting thing to me isn't so much that this guy was doing this or why, but that someone actually took the initiative to track him down to the point of finding out who it was.

It sounds like someone was doing some homework and found a fish on the line. "Well, looky here!".
9.27.2006 3:32pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
Why is it dishonest to post an anonymous comment on a blog with an online political discussion? Don't they usually encourage anonymous comments?

I am posting here under my real name, and I am giving my real opinion, but other people do things differently.
9.27.2006 3:57pm
Kierkegaard (mail):
I'm pretty sure that posting comments on blogs anonymously has become standard for most if not all campaigns.
9.27.2006 4:00pm
Arbusto Spectrum (mail):

Why is it dishonest to post an anonymous comment on a blog with an online political discussion? Don't they usually encourage anonymous comments?

There is nothing inherently dishonest in posting anonymously on a blog. There would seem to be something dishonest about making the statement "I am a Republican" when in fact you are a registered Democrat. To claim that you support a certain candidate for office, when in fact you work for his opponent, would also seem to be dishonest.
I doubt that this guy's actions were outside the norm of politics. That doesn't make it right. And fortunately, my wife's jeans don't make her look fat ;-)
9.27.2006 5:16pm
dweeb:
If I was going to do serious sockpuppetry, I'd buy a laptop computer (for cash) and do all my posting from wi-fi hotspots.

Bingo! That's what makes this so stupid. It's so easy to do it right.

There's not a damn thing wrong with what the guy did.

Except maybe using equipment and a connection paid for with our tax dollars for campaign purposes.

Right... I think this says more about the credibility of anonymous internet posts than anything else.

Actually, it says nothing about their credibility. You don't know most commenters from Adam, so it matters little what name they use.

My question is why people take anonymous comments so seriously. Anonymous stuff on the internet is about as reliable as bathroom graffiti,

It's as reliable as the reader makes it. What difference does it make WHO says it? Identity is not veracity. I'll tell you what the weather is right now, and you can check and see that this anonymous stranger has told you the truth, but when one of the most famous people in the world, whose identity was guaranteed by the Secret Service, said "I did not have sex with that woman," fat lot of good his identity did.
Forget identity, focus on the assertions and the evidence given to support them. If it rings true, anonymity is of no consequence, and all the identity in the world won't change the wrongness of claiming the earth is flat. Most people who complain about anonymity in a blog are simply frustrated because an opponent's anonymity denies them any hooks on which to hang ad hominems.
If anyone was politically swayed by these false comments, then that's their personal problem. Seems more an argument for limiting the voting franchise than disallowing anonymous comments.

yet no one takes the latter category seriously or gets all sanctimonious when it is revealed that the number scrawled on the wall does not, in fact, lead to a good time
How do you know? Ever known anyone to call the number?
9.28.2006 3:28pm