Big Brother meets GOTV
Any two people interested in whether Amanda Beard is dating fellow Olympian Michael Phelps, and who clicked on the Boston Herald tidbit that raced around the Web last week, got the same piece of gossip.
Rumored galpal Amanda Beard on Phelps: No Thanks!
What was different was the political ads that appeared -- or didn't -- beside the story.
Readers who had visited Barack Obama's Web site received as many as three Obama ads alongside the gossip. "Help Elect Barack Obama President of the United States" and "Visit the Barack Obama Website," the ads said.
Readers who hadn't visited his site didn't see a single Obama pitch.
How did the campaign know which readers to send ads to? Although both the Obama and John McCain campaigns are reluctant to discuss details, the ability to identify sympathetic voters based on their Internet habits, and then to target them with ads as they move across the Web, is one of the defining aspects of the 2008 presidential campaign.
I don't think it is just the presidential candidates. Is it any wonder that politicians who use methods such as this fail to protect the fourth amendment?