I’ve been following this story over the past few days and have read now both sides of the story. I found Joe Rospars, Director of New Media’s, version and half-hearted, shuffling mea culpa disappointing. So was the mainstream media coverage.

Most people seem focused on the he said/he said, Joe Anthony vs Obama Campaign, David vs Goliath angle. Yet what’s lost is the impact on the formerly large community Barack Obama once boasted in MySpace. 160,000 people became “friends” of Obama, thus indicated public support for him on their own pages. Many thousands linked in other ways using buttons and many more left supportive messages on Obama’s page. 160,000 people — to whom Obama’s campaign would be able to bulk-message at the right time for volunteers, donations and votes — were friends one day with Obama and then were given the back of the hand. By Obama.

Those people are not numbers. They are people. The Obama campaign’s misguided bid for “control” (what exactly was the big hurry anyway?) was more important than recognizing and respecting those people who were essentially shown the door and kicked off the new page. Sure. They can re-join. But why would they? Frankly the new page doesn’t make that clear. How strong was the former community?

If you think the group has no daily life, that once people friended Anthony’s Obama profile, consider this: as of this morning, there are at least 18,000 comments from members of that group responding to a bulletin Anthony sent them about the situation and asking for their advice.

To call their MySpace outreach “an experiment” seems naive or disingenuous. It shows a complete lack of understanding for and real sympathy with the netroots. It sounds like Obama’s team might need more adult supervision. Obama will need to do better than this. It’s very nice that Obama reached out to Joe Anthony and called him. But. At the end of the day, I ain’t impressed. And I’ll be watching.

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