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The Great @PoliticolNews Mental Breakdown

by Zach Green on March 4, 2013

in Uncategorized

PoliticolNews has begun making a simple, false claim with a lot of drama: I am a secret Republican who wants to sell all your data. The naïveté of this paranoia is disconcerting. There are many reasons it isn’t true or plausible, outlined below.

Of course, when they began seeking the Truth I was happy to chat. I even offered an interview, which is rare. They instead decided to block me, the principal of the story they were investigating. Ask any credible reporter. That’s non-standard. Why did they block me? See below.

I answered pretty directly and honestly and was immediately blocked. PoliticolNews continued to “investigate” for a few hours. The key part I didn’t get a chance to answer. Catch it again below.

These Lists that are so valuable and about to be stolen…don’t exist. All Lists by UniteBlue are public on Twitter or our website. Public data is free. You can use our lists however you want. We cannot sell it. In fact, all information contained in our Lists, such as Twitter bios, is publicly available through the Twitter API.

The only information not 100% publicly available are email addresses. As clearly stated in our privacy policy, “we will never share, sell, or rent your email address with anyone without your advance permission or unless ordered by a court of law.”

Now let us pretend that super-secret private lists somehow exist. Why the hell would anyone on the Right want to buy data about folks on the Left? Do you really think they are good fundraisers? Anyone who works in politics professionally will laugh at this claim. Sounds scary, but it is frankly illogical.

News organizations and those that claim the title thrive on one thing: traffic. Outrage and controversy sells better than anything for small papers. It seems @PoliticolNews has put short-term gains in traffic above long-term credibility.

I have heard UniteBlue is too good to be true. Thank you for that compliment. Unfortunately, as stated elsewhere, all funding for UniteBlue has come solely out of my pocket. It is offered completely for free, and will always be free to join and use. There is no “income from affiliates.”

OMG, Zach worked for the GOP?! Actually, we worked with Buddy Roemer after he announced he would run for President under the Reform Party. We were also working to support Occupy Wall Street at the time, and Buddy Roemer only had one issue: get money out of politics. He actually visited Zuccotti Park a few times. We liked that. We fought to curb the influence of Wall Street, special interests, and millionaires. It is true he was a Republican for a few years prior, but he was also a Democrat for 8 years in the House of Representatives and as Governor of Louisiana. In the end we agreed to jump on board to push an issue firmly on the Left. We don’t agree with everything Governor Roemer believes, but we agree our government is being bought.

It is either sad or hilariously ironic that they choose to use this connection to thereby argue I am corrupt or hiding anything. Politicol’s byline is “Get The Money Out of Politics” – they should agree with us on this one. I joined Roemer’s campaign precisely to fight against the corrupting influence of money and for government transparency. Our work for Roemer isn’t hidden. It is on the left sidebar of every page of this site. Things may seem hidden when you block the principal.

So much for the secret Republican claim. If anyone can find any statement I have ever made that reveals a conservative position on any issue, let them speak. I will be waiting.

And here is where @PoliticolNews starts losing it.

I understand that programming is magic to folks who don’t do it, but no accounts are compromised. No account has ever experienced a problem with UniteBlue. Yet somehow…

You guessed it, I hacked their account and momentarily stopped them from Tweeting! Or they hit a rate limit to how quickly you can Tweet. Sure, the latter explanation is less paranoid and naive, but isn’t the former exciting? Also crazy. It continues.

Follow the thread for that one. Ole Olson, aka @Novenator, stepped in, asked what was wrong, and was immediately accused of being me in disguise! I feel bad for @novenator – I had never spoken with him before, but he is well-known and respected within the progressive community online. Lots of the folks working to build the progressive community for a long time treat it like a family, and try to figure out disputes. Sorry, Novenator. Pick your battles.

Of course, there is only one solution.

Get rid of Twitter! Or, another solution.

Just let people do their thing. Stop with the drama and paranoia. We have better things to do.

We are still awaiting their hit piece that will undoubtedly take a narrative that “Zach Green is a secret Republican stealing money!” We have already addressed that in these places:

The hit piece will also use a slurry of other unsubstantiated attacks I am sure, though it is hard to predict the final outline given their extreme paranoia and complete lack of understanding of how the Internet or political campaigns function. Two other folks have already retracted and corrected articles taking this approach. I am sure PoliticolNews will not. We will respond as appropriate.

Note: Apologies if Tweets from @PoliticolNews are broken – they have protected their account a few times lately. I guess I can do something evil if it isn’t? Now, I know that UniteBlue is pretty magical, but I am not. Your accounts are safe. But that penny behind your ear on the other hand…stole it!

Update: Nobody can find who is behind @PoliticolNews. No author bylines or about page. Ask them who is managing their account, since they are calling for transparency.

Update: PoliticolNews used to be an anti-vaccine website. Credible.

Update: We are collecting reactions to PoliticolNews below.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Catherine (@Birdmischief) March 4, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Thank you so much for this post, Zach. I’ll admit to scratching my head over a lot of the kerfuffle over UniteBlue lately, so it’s good to see your point of view on all this. It eases my mind a little, which is nice because I think that connecting the left can make a difference and I’ve met some spectacular people through UB. However, if you steal the ferret sitting on my foot, we’re going to have words!

*ahem*

Catherine

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bobbie barnhill March 4, 2013 at 9:23 pm

I am very good at gauging subjective, and objective behavior of people. I get nothing but good vibes from Zach. I used to tweet with him before he began U.B.
If anyone wants the list of members of UB, fairly easy to obtain. Just look at list of followers, etc.
I intend to ignore this nonsense, and take what good that comes from this organization, which is filled with good people.
Keep up the good work, Zach

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as_kell March 4, 2013 at 10:11 pm

I saw much of this as it was happening. So counter-productive & yes, paranoid! I’m with Pam – those stirring up drama get unfollowed by me. Politicol has gone over the edge. Keep up with what you’re doing for the group – we DO appreciate it! I’ve met wonderful progressives and am looking forward to affecting real change!
It takes being UNITEDBlue. ;)

Kelli aka Lilith Speaks

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ten24get March 4, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Those who follow me know I’ve established my progressive bona fides. I have friends on both sides of this issue and we’re all distressed by the conflict. @karoli has established that no lists or control of #CTL were stolen that was a major bone of contention. Zach has indicated that the consulting business and #UniteBlue are separate entities, the latter soon to be a nonprofit Progressive entity. Yes, I follow RW’ers too. I live in UT and need to know what they’re thinking. Doing that doesn’t make anyone an enemy. Please everyone don’t say or do anything rash that only plays into the hands of the GOP. We need to #UniteTheLeft.

Thanks,
Bill

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CJ (@Astra543) March 5, 2013 at 1:50 pm

I’ve just suffered a pretty good thumping from the right so I’m feeling more than a little wary, but I can’t see how being on the list for Unite Blue can hurt me anyway. I did disable the app until the dust settles, at least. I hate politics–I hate conflict, but it’s a necessary evil. Part of that evil is deception and mud-slinging, and we seem to have it going on! Unfortunately we all need to be careful of what we say. It’s easy for words and meaning to be misconstrued. #UniteBlue

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gratepool March 6, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Being someone who has been with Zach for several years I tried to step in and defend #UniteBlue. After just one or two comments of facts I was blocked by PoliticolNews as well. I can’t prove that they are taking money or anything but their actions make me believe they are acting on behalf of the right wing machine. When #Uniteblue started making noise it was time to send in the attack dogs.

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@wulfwine March 7, 2013 at 2:24 pm

The most excellent piece of recursive journalism I’ve ever seen. Well done.

Seriously though, this set of incidents highlights the weak reasoning, conflation & innuendo that passes as thinking these days, not only on the Alex Jones right, but on the FDL left as well.

A truly unified left would be an unstoppable force in American politics, this fact is not lost on those who might be the losers in this, so I tend to agree with gratepool above, it’s just weird.

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@PriscillaJudd Priscilla Judd March 7, 2013 at 9:59 pm

I heard 2 stories both of which scared me into revoking Unite Blue App. In retrospect it scared me more than unite blue cuz ever did. I was asked to join UniteBlue to be a defense force against spammers (not cuz I was scared of being suspended). I was upset by bad stuff from two angles so I revoked the app. BUT the more I think about it – I love my #uniteblue follows – I was never asked to do anything aggressive -so why quit? Having been a target myself, for standing up against political wrongdoing, I now see similarities between those attacks I survived and the attacks against UniteBlue . I’m sorry, I was so easily scared (I still wear the scars of political oppression). Who ever is reading this: are you happy? Then what’s the problem? beware there are troublemakers on twitter.

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puppetbrown March 9, 2013 at 3:18 am

Thanks for some clarification. Paranoia also led me to unfollow, block and basically shut down until the dust settled. I guess, like others, I’ve had to play it safe one too many times online (and off). Still, the pros of connecting with like-minded progressives on the Left far outweighs any other previously perceived trust issues. Thanks for helping get us United!

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Carol March 9, 2013 at 11:52 am

I want to apologize for even posting the politcol article. and that i also reacted without thinking it thru. thank you for speaking out about this Mr, Green and i again apologize..#UniteBlue

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R. DuFresne March 9, 2013 at 1:14 pm

First time I saw anyone questioning the site I went and read up on @140elect and the UniteBlue missions statements. @140elect turned out to be a consulting company clearly stated on main site page: 140elect is a full-service Twitter consulting firm. Ok I understand that statement.
Further transparency was this statement at bottom UniteBlue page:
Zach Green is the founder of UniteBlue.com and the CEO of 140elect. You can reach him at uniteblue@gmail.com.
Read to understand folks. Do NOT trust those trying to divide within a site designed to bring us together.

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Yoda March 10, 2013 at 5:22 am

Seems to me that some of the names throwing around the mud were some of the same ones that also tried to discredit and cause problems with StopRush once it started to have a real following. Just sayin’

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@justmaryp March 10, 2013 at 10:00 am

Thanks for this article, I also was a bit confused by some of the drama I had been seeing, but this lays it out very clearly. I’ve also liked the connections I’ve made via @UniteBlue and will continue to support the group. I can’t help but think that there is a bit of jealousy behind the attacks.. and of course the “tin hats” probably interfere with brain function. ;)

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@DaleF3 March 18, 2013 at 10:42 pm

Anything that unites us is far better than anything that divides us.

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yeswecanjane March 22, 2013 at 2:45 pm

I was one of the confused who does not want to be played by the corrupt Koch and friends.Politics is a dirty business. So you have to expect so investigating since your father Adam did business with the other side. I have read his explanation about his involvement and it seems heartfelt. I have been a great supporter of the left for years and if you have a way to join all the great supporters on the left through a twitter site more respect for you.

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@Sibhuskylover March 25, 2013 at 2:34 am

I am so glad to see you address this, Zach! I saw some of the infighting in progress a while ago, and it is very disturbing! I never doubted UniteBlue, not even for a minute, but I was seeing the attacks get to some. I don’t want to see them divide us, because we are stronger together! UniteBlue is making an impact, which is why they want to tear us down! It still troubles me to see the infighting, but I am glad to see that most are wising up to their nonsense. I choose to not engage them. If we waste our time engaging them, we are not doing the good we should be doing!

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