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A sign of the times

Thursday, Mar 26, 2015

* From a press release…

Shield Political Research, a Democratic opposition research firm with experience researching opponents as well as offering self-research to clients, is pleased to announce the launch of a new service to campaigns and political organizations: self-research on the social media history of potential staffers and other new hires.

The early stages of the 2016 cycle have been filled with stories of what turned out to be short-term campaign hires generating distractions — and embarrassing headlines —with regretful social media posts that were discovered too late, including misogynistic Twitter posts, tweets taking a swipe at early-state voters, and tweets calling officials on both sides of the aisle “idiots,” and worse. […]

Many of the men and women who will staff and lead campaigns this cycle are from a generation in which virtually their entire adult lives —for better or worse —are reflected on social media accounts.

Shield will examine these social media accounts — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, among other sites —and flag any potential sources of trouble, including questionable photos, comments, tweets, “likes” or followed feeds.

Our methods go beyond simple searching, using triangulation, archived pages and social-web analysis to guarantee we capture a full picture of the staffer’s social media footprint.

The service will employ the same touchstones that mark Shield’s other research products: speed, accuracy and a price that makes it a shrewd investment for national and local campaigns alike.

Shield’s social media reports for staffers will be completed in three days or less, and be protected by a confidentiality clause.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Michelle Flaherty - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:09 am:

    Can the governor expunge my FaceBook?

  2. - siriusly - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:09 am:

    A great idea. The biggest challenge will be convincing candidates to hire them. Candidates normally are the ones who are ignorant about these risks.

  3. - sleepysol - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:09 am:

    Everything is Optics…Everything matters when you’re part of a team.

  4. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:11 am:

    ===The early stages of the 2016 cycle have been filled with stories of what turned out to be short-term campaign hires generating distractions — and embarrassing headlines —with regretful social media posts that were discovered too late, including misogynistic Twitter posts, tweets taking a swipe at early-state voters, and tweets calling officials on both sides of the aisle “idiots,” and worse. […]===

    I can’t be more about this.

    Facebook and Twitter are forever.

    You want to be part of a Crew, ya really don’t need to Dopiness of being on Social Media.

  5. - ah HA - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:12 am:


  6. - Ray del Camino - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:13 am:

    This is very smart. I’d tell a client to hire this service in a heartbeat.

    Glad I am a Boomer and this social media stuff wasn’t around when I was young and dumb.

  7. - Harry - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:15 am:

    A need creates a supply. This is definitely needed, if done well.

  8. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:17 am:

    In the fifties, I overheard my mother say to a friend “the worlds turning too fast”. As an already nervous, worried kid of 10 or so, that one really got my fears in high gear. In a few years there would be Berlin, Cuba, and the JFK assassination. The rise of Technology as King, and the not far-fetched possibility that humans will be subordinate to ‘ machines’ in the future hasn’t done much to settle me down. Technology has overtaken our ability to digest its implications, and the race is all but over. You can’t change it, and that’s not a defeatist attitude. It’s an ugly reality. You can give in, or join up. I hope to capitalize on the prevelant nastiness that abounds, and launch my “IN YOUR FACEbook”. See you there….

  9. - Hacksaw Jim - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:18 am:

    I hate it. Its bad enough that elections predominantly use a cesspool of negative tv ads and mail about candidates. Now we are going to drag staffers and potential staffers into the mix?

  10. - Abraham Froman - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:19 am:

    no mention of CapFax comments review with complimentary nickname decoder?

  11. - Demoralized - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:20 am:

    ==Now we are going to drag staffers and potential staffers into the mix?==

    The people that work for you are a reflection on you. If I were a candidate I would certainly like to know if people working for me have been out there saying moronic stuff on social media. If you can avoid an unnecessary “scandal” then why not do it?

  12. - tikkunolam - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:20 am:

    Every time I’ve taken a job on a campaign, I’ve called home to tell my parents about it.

    “Hey, I’ve got a new campaign job!”

    “Yea, it pays around $2000 a month, should be about 70 hours a week or so.”

    “I guess that is under minimum wage, but I’m an independent contractor, so… no overtime, no benefits, and I have to pay my own Social Security taxes. Can I stay on your insurance?”

    Now I can add to that conversation, “Also, if anyone discovers that I once made a joke that wasn’t on this campaign’s message, I’ll lose the job in a public and embarrassing matter.”

    After each one of the conversations, my dad says the same thing: “If those unions knew how politicians treat their campaign staff, they’d never give them another dollar.”

    We need a union of our own, man.

  13. - Shemp - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:22 am:

    A treasure trove of info to be taken completely out of context. Yea. Such good sporting! I feel sorry for the next round of political hopefuls, not that I feel sorry for many politicians. Not going to help in recruiting a new generation. Bad enough now having your past laid open for misinterpretation, let alone with social media, some of which you can’t always control.

  14. - Skeptic - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:22 am:

    “Censorship?” Um, no. And it’s not a First Amendment thing either. Just like the Duck Dynasty dudes, they can say whatever they’d like (and not be put in jail) but the Candidate (or TV network) can (with some exceptions) (and do) hire/fire people based on what they’ve said.

  15. - Skeptic - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:23 am:

    …(with some exceptions) (citation needed)

  16. - Crispy - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:26 am:

    Simultaneously a good idea, and a disturbing example of the acceptance of a “surveillance society.” Weeding out liabilities is great, but there’s big potential for misuse of the information.

    Also, should be “regrettable,” not “regretful”–but then, word choice is no big deal, as long as you’re following the right people on Twitter!/s

  17. - Bigtwich - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:26 am:

    Somebody may end up doing it after they are hired so why not?

  18. - jazzy - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:28 am:

    Some employers are using social media as a means of “to hire or not to hire”. If someone puts it out there they should not have an expectation of privacy.

  19. - MrJM - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:28 am:


    Unless you must use your legal name on social media, you shouldn’t use your legal name on social media, e.g.

    – MrJM

  20. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:29 am:

    If I were asked about being on social media and then attempting to even being on a Crew, I’d say clearly, and without hesitation.

    Get. Off. Social. Media.

    “Why take a chance?”

    The Internet is forever. Your career can be damaged. Forever.

    If you know you aren’t going to be hired, or try for Staff jobs, or run as part of a campaign Crew, tweet away, insta-whatever away. Have fun.

    It a cost. Sorry. It is.

    No reason to be partaking in the Twitterverse, if your goal is to be tweeted about, or work for someone who needs media attention.

  21. - A guy - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:42 am:

    Words matter. Now more than ever. Younger people who are doing hiring (who’ve grown up in a Social Media world) already “creep” SM on applicants. They’ve been doing it for a while. One would hope (maybe even pray) that a good HR person would have a conversation before rejecting someone out of hand because of a SM comment or two made in the Wonder Years.

    A pattern of stupidly could easily be used to eliminate the obvious chaff. But this is opening the Juvy files in a big way. Forewarned is forearmed. Words matter. Be careful what you say…to the universe.

  22. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:49 am:

    Hacksaw - on the surface, I would agree. But this is a super easy (and cheap) way to make sure that a candidate doesn’t hire a bunch of knuckleheads.

    One thing that does worry me going forward is how many potentially good-to-great candidates will be dinged by a stupid tweet or post? I know that some will ask “WHO CARES?!” but it’s a concern of mine that candidates will be further nit-picked and dragged through the mud over fluff.

  23. - tikkunolam - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:54 am:

    A guy: “One would hope (maybe even pray) that a good HR person would have a conversation before rejecting someone out”

    Almost no campaigns besides Presidentials have even one dedicated HR staffer. Hiring is done by candidates’ and campaign managers’ guts and connections. It’s not a long process.

  24. - ZC - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 11:01 am:

    Now hopefully at some future enlightened date some of this may level off, because the voters doing the evaluating will be the same voters who made all this crazy stuff public about themselves during their teens and early twenties. It may become a bit like candidates today admitting they smoked marijuana in college. “When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible.”

    So maybe we’re just in a temporary high-danger zone, when the staffers are all basically in their twenties and tweeting up a storm, and the voters are more in their fifties and sixties and thinking, “Who would ever *say* that?”

  25. - Hacksaw Jim - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 11:01 am:

    So in 2013, the General Assembly passed a law that said that employers cant require employees to give up their social media passwords, but now some members may want to do some social media snooping of their own. Interesting to see what happens when the shoe is on the other foot.

  26. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 11:03 am:

    “Don’t press send” - Herm Edwards.

    Use the Search key on YouTube…

  27. - Hacksaw Jim - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 11:11 am:

    I suppose that my bigger concern is not that campaigns are going to use this information to screen potential staffers, but that campaigns will obtain this information as a part of their opposition research and use out of context comments by staffers in campaign ads and literature. Campaigns are already negative enough - we don’t need to add an extra layer of negativity to an already depressing set of messaging.

  28. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 11:19 am:

    Modern problems. Back in the day, if you anonymously published a pamphlet that slandered King George or incited revolution, you’d be called a hero and Founding Father. You might also be jailed and/or hanged, as was the custom at the time.

    Today, make one unfunny comment about anything that could potentially offend anyone, and you’ll never work in politics again.

    Only in America.

  29. - A guy - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 11:35 am:

    - tikkunolam - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 10:54 am:===

    Dude, yet they all have Oppo Research folks that would make any HR person envious and frightened enough to pee in their pants. This isn’t a resource problem. Not by a long shot.

  30. - The obvious - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 11:46 am:

    It just reminds me of what amazing times we are living in with the Internet and other electronic social media. It makes the old days sure seem old when a 13-year-old can research information in five minutes which would take a professional staff months to do in the old days. And it’s only going to get more amazing as time goes by.

  31. - Angry Republican - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 12:48 pm:

    I thought Calvin solved this problem many years ago:

  32. - tikkunolam - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 12:53 pm:

    - A guy - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 11:35 am: “This isn’t a resource problem.”

    I meant more of a cultural problem than a resource problem.

  33. - Bigtwich - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 1:12 pm:

    “and this social media stuff wasn’t around when I was young and dumb.”

    I know what you mean. I have grown out of the young part.

  34. - CLJ - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 1:38 pm:

    Campaigns and elected officials have become TOO paranoid and focused on optics rather than on issus and policy. An intelligent candidate/campaign/office will use this sort of tool to say “yes (when the press comes knocking, because it will at some point), we’re aware of what staffer A has said on social media in the past” (very important, becuase I do agree, once onboard, you words are no longer yours). And then move on to the next subject which is more important, like fixing problems that voters actually care about.

    When the outfit gets too caught up with something someone on the crew said in the past then there will no longer be any one left on the crew.

    Kids today use social media and if they want to be in politics they will say things such as their opinions and childish stabs at the opposition using social media. Back in my day (HA!!!), I wrote countless letters to the editor of the local paper. Of course, they had an editor to censor non-sense. Not the case with comment sections anymore.

    Using such a tool to learn about your staff is fine, but using it to weed out potential staff that you feel is quilified to be part of the crew it foolish.

  35. - Skeptic - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 1:52 pm:

    “Today, make one unfunny comment about anything…, and you’ll never work in politics again” or just have your voice crack when you yell “Yeah!” Just ask Howard Dean.

  36. - A guy - Thursday, Mar 26, 15 @ 3:45 pm:

    Skep, I’m sure you remember…Howard’s primal yell was in a….primary. Those Dems have to work on tolerance. lol/s.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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