High Tech Stalking and the Presidential Election

By Pam Martens: October 15, 2012

A little over a month ago, I went to the web site of the Koch Industries roster of their version of “facts,” and stumbled upon, completely by accident, the billionaire brothers’ wholesale attack on Robert Greenwald, the filmmaker who released the documentary Koch Brothers Exposed earlier this year.  For the balance of the day, wherever I went on the internet, various versions of Koch ads popped up, berating Greenwald and his film.  I felt like I was being stalked.

According to a techie friend, I had picked up a cookie at the Koch Industries web site and it was using that cookie to follow me around and attempt to brainwash me against Robert Greenwald and his film.  I had to erase all my cookies to stop this stalking.

If you think this is over-the-top creepy, you obviously have not yet read the article in the New York Times this past Sunday about the stalking going on to get the best seat in the Oval Office.

According to the Times:

“In the weeks before Election Day, millions of voters will hear from callers with surprisingly detailed knowledge of their lives. These callers — friends of friends or long-lost work colleagues — will identify themselves as volunteers for the campaigns or independent political groups. 

“The callers will be guided by scripts and call lists compiled by people — or computers — with access to details like whether voters may have visited pornography Web sites, have homes in foreclosure, are more prone to drink Michelob Ultra than Corona or have gay friends or enjoy expensive vacations.” 

What the callers plan to do with this data mining is make a warm call – “warm” because they already know the person and will push the potential voter’s hot buttons to get him/her to the polls on election day. 

That process may then be followed with really creepy public shaming.  According to the Times: 

“After these conversations, when those targeted voters open their mailboxes or check their Facebook profiles, they may find that someone has divulged specifics about how frequently they and their neighbors have voted in the past. Calling out people for not voting, what experts term ‘public shaming,’ can prod someone to cast a ballot.” 

The above scenario had a very familiar ring.  It was May 1997.  Feminist writer and activist Gloria Steinem had arranged to join a group of protesters outside of Smith Barney’s headquarters in Tribeca on May 20.  The firm was then headed by Jamie Dimon, now head of JPMorgan Chase.  I was going to be speaking at the protest against the firm’s practice of contractually barring employees from court access as a condition of employment.  (Smith Barney, along with other major Wall Street firms, force both workers and clients to give up their right to the Nation’s courts and, instead, usher all claims into a crony system called mandatory arbitration.)  Steinem was going to be speaking on the claims which had surfaced at Smith Barney of horrific treatment of women. 

According to a very reliable source, executives of Smith Barney had contacted dozens of their female executives to find out who was friends with Gloria Steinem and could make a “warm call” to her and persuade her not to attend the protest.  (The idea being that there wouldn’t be as much media attention without Steinem.)  A woman who had attended college with Steinem made the contact, according to the source.  Steinem came anyway. 

People as a rule don’t like creepy stalking.  This particular get-out-the-vote (GOTV) idea is likely to go down in history as the worst idea of the election of 2012 – right next to whomever advised the President to be polite in his first debate with Mitt Romney.  

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