Forget "swiftboating." It looks like the dirty tactics in this election cycle might not come from rival campaigns, but rather from Internet pranksters with shadowy affiliations--or no affiliations at all. First there was that anonymous, pro-Obama attack ad that compared Hillary Clinton to Big Brother. Now, Republican contender John McCain's campaign is going through a similar case of the high-tech woes thanks to a nasty prank on his official MySpace page.
According to a post on TechCrunch, the image on McCain's MySpace page that provides links to add the Arizona senator as a "friend," IM him, or block him (among other actions), was swapped with a rather unsavory replacement. In its place was a fake campaign announcement that declared, "Dear Supporters, Today I have announced that I have reversed my position and come out in full support of gay marriage...particularly marriage between passionate females." Yes, TechCrunch has screenshots.
But that's not the whole story. Turns out that this was a little bit more than just a case of simple hacking. The folks in charge of McCain's MySpace page made a few mistakes that ticked off Newsvine's founder and CEO Mike Davidson. Davidson had designed the template that McCain's folks had used for the MySpace page, and claimed in a Newsvine post that the campaign had "commandeered" his design by using it without permission and not even bothering to host the images on a campaign site. Since they instead linked to images on Davidson's own server (sucking up his bandwidth in the process), Davidson could easily replace one of them with a prank image as retribution. Which he did.
Methinks there may be a low-level McCain campaign worker who will be seeing a pink slip by the end of the day.
In other news, the San Jose Mercury News is reporting that McCain's fellow Republican contender Rudy Giuliani had a big flaw in his campaign Web site. Luckily, it's been fixed.