Sock puppets may not be such a good idea

sock puppet: the act of creating a fake online identity to praise, defend or create the illusion of support for one’s self, allies or company. — New York Times
Jim Galloway asks, About Beth Merkleson: Does Casey Cagle’s most out-spoken foe wear pants and carry a senator’s BlackBerry?
For a week, Republican grassroots activist Beth Merkleson has been on a tirade against Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

Fuming at allegations that Cagle was colluding with Democrats to recoup his power that Senate Republicans stripped from him last November, Merkleson dubbed her near-daily e-mails the “Georgia Senate Informer.”

Then again, it’s very possible that Merkleson never existed. Or that
she wears pants and bears a striking resemblance to Senate Majority Whip Cecil Staton, R-Macon.

Members of the Senate Republican Caucus today were handed a 10-page report compiled by Arch Adams of Hartwell, an Internet and political junkie, who says Merkleson and Staton shared the same computer IP address on Saturday, 19 minutes apart.

You may read the report here.

Staton denied it.
What happened was something of a sting. Adams, who sells trampolines and other outdoor fare online, sent an e-mail to Merkleson last Friday, four days after she started publishing her notes. “I just fool with the Internet and I like politics,” Adams said.

He used an alias, “T Smith,” to send a note to Merkleson. The note came back signed, “Cecil Staton.” So there’s one clue.

There’s more, about a bait website to which only Merkleson was given the address, yet:
Within 19 minutes, Staton clicked on it with his BlackBerry. The two websites indicated that both he and Merkleson shared the same IP address.
And this:
According to data from the sectary of state’s office, there is no Beth or Elizabeth Merkleson registered to vote in Georgia. With or without a mother in Dayton. Nexus can find no evidence that such a person exists, here or in Ohio.
What effect could that have? Brad Stone and Matt Richtel wrote in the NYTimes, The Hand That Controls the Sock Puppet Could Get Slapped:
For high-profile figures, particularly members of political campaigns, sock-puppeting can be a shortcut to career disaster. In September, Tad Furtado, the policy director for the then-representative from New Hampshire, Charles Bass, a Republican, was caught posting under assumed names on Democratic blogs, arguing that the race was not competitive and that Democrats should focus their energies elsewhere. Liberal bloggers traced the source of the messages back to the House of Representatives and identified Mr. Furtado, who lost his job. His boss lost the election.
Sock puppeting can be a fast way to lose political capital.
sock puppet: An account made on an internet message board, by a person who already has an account, for the purpose of posting more-or-less anonymously. — urban dictionary


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