Obama’s MySpace page: Getting Owned in Social Media

U.S. Presidential Candidate Barack Obama is embroiled in controversy over how he obtained his MySpace page.

Although some of the details are under dispute by both parties, it seems that generally what happened is…

  • About two and a half years ago, fan Joe Anthony creates a MySpace profile to promote Barack Obama. This was well before Obama’s stated presidential ambitions. The profile was at www.myspace.com/barackobama.
  • Obama entered the race in early February. His new media team contacted Joe Anthony and they all began to work together to optimize the profile.
  • The already successful profile grew to about 160,000 people – a good portion of which is due to the promotional efforts that MySpace themselves were putting into candidate profile pages.
  • Things started to go sour between Obama’s people and Joe Anthony.
  • They offered to buy the rights to the profile from him. After considering the time put into the profile, Anthony returned to them with his price of $39,000.
  • Obama’s team choked on that and asked MySpace to hand over the profile, which they did. Their argument was that the candidate had a right to his own name.

Obama’s team is trying to dig out of this. The candidate himself even called Joe Anthony to try to smooth things over. Techpresident has been all over this and also has a great post on the underlying issue of how to value social media profiles.

With all the bad press on this, Obama’s team and MySpace have been looking for solutions. As it stands now, it looks like Joe Anthony is going to be getting the profile itself back (and the 160,000 followers) – albeit at a new address.

What a mess. What can we learn from all of this?

  • You don’t really own anything that you put on a 3rd party social media website, but as we all like to pretend we do, you have some recourse. Get your story out and use the social media to our advantage. Everybody loves the underdog.
  • Keep an eye on your brand in social media and try to “secure” profiles associated with it as soon as possible. Defend your turf and your squatter’s rights.
  • Treat bloggers with at least as much respect as you would for a reporter of the New York Times. Of course, with the rise of social media this is going to mean treating almost everybody that way…

…and a couple for Obama’s team

  • When your running for president, isn’t it worth the $39,000 to secure your MySpace profile without the flurry of bad press? Plus you risked alienating a talented and devoted new media savvy supporter along the way… $39,000 strikes me as cheap and probably more than that has been spent in crisis management already.
  • Would it have been so bad if you’d picked some clever handle once you realized your own name was taken? Hey, it worked for lonelygirl15