Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Shapps Denies Astroturfing Allegations

Earlier today LibDem Voice posted THIS, alleging that Tory byelection campaign manager Grant Shapps had used his Youtube account to indulge in a bit of astroturfing. Guido followed it up too. This all seemd a bit odd to me so I went to the horse's mouth and have got a categoric denial that Grant did anything of the sort. It appears that he had a very easily guessable password on his Youtube account (it was 1234 !!!) and someone hacked into it. A CCHQ spokesman said...
We have absolutely no idea how this post appeared, however it does appear
someone has been accessing his account. The short password has now been changed
to something more secure. In past two days he has removed a number of posts from
his own YouTube videos which had appeared without authorisation. We will be
monitoring the account carefully and can't rule out the activities of our
opponents.

I can totally see why Mark Pack and others might have thought the worst and can't blame them for highlighting it. Sometimes the story is not quite as good as one first thinks.

67 comments:

Anonymous said...

Weak.

Anonymous said...

So no doubt Tim Ireland will be the first to offer apologies all round!

henry viii said...

Very very weak.

And, Iain, I don't remember you being so understanding when this clot starting throwing around accusations about LibDems paying for posters... and I cannot recall seeing any evidence about that ever being produced.

Tom FD said...

I trust we won't be seeing Shapps put in charge of the nuclear codes any time soon...

David Boothroyd said...

Sorry, just don't believe the denial. If some malicious hoaxer had managed to get into Grant Shapps' youtube account, and then decided to wreak havoc by posting embarrassing things under his name, he could have done far, far better than this.

Put it like this: what a remarkable coincidence that what looks like a cocked-up attempt at astroturfing to sabotage the Lib Dem campaign in a byelection just happens to be posted under Grant Shapps' name, just as if he'd tried to do it himself but accidentally forgotten to log in under his new name.

Anyone shaving with Ockham's Razor today?

True Brit said...

So, either he's a clot who can't astroturf properly, or he's a clot who thinks an easily guessable four character password is secure...

I suppose he could always ask Youtube to investigate the IP addresses used for the allegedly fake postings - you never know, that might catch out the LibDims in a spot of reverse astroturfing... :-)

Chris K said...

Hopefully he's changed his passwords on (say) his online banking and the Conservative Party network?

Praguetory said...

Where have all the good astro-turfers gone?

It's pretty unbelievable that the head of campaigning would spend his time doing this sort of nonsense (unless it was Tom Watson).

Bob Piper said...

"Sometimes the story isn't as good as one first thinks..."

Yes, a bit like that one about Councillor Zahida Noori defecting to the Tories!


Ha, Ha Ha, Ha!

Joe Taylor said...

You're doing well here Iain, as many as one out of six posters on here actually believe Shapps' cock-and-bull story... ;-)

I mean, what kind of e-campaigning "expert" uses 1234 as a password?

I hope he knows where his bank cards are...

dynamite said...

Bollocks didn't he.

machiavelli said...

Lib Dems hacking into his YouTube account and pretending to be him pretending to be someone else? What twisted minds they have.

LIB DEMS CAN'T PLAY FAIR HERE

Rob Fenwick said...

So he knew for two days that 'unauthorised' comments were appearing - presumably meaning comments appearing to come from him - and he just kept deleting the comments rather than changing his password?

Yeeeah. Someone should tell CCHQ, and Shapps, to stop digging. He, or someone acting on his behalf, was caught red-handed - the least he can do is own up to it.

Anonymous said...

Nice try Iain. Honourable attempt at standing up for him. It almost sounds like you actually believe the excuse.

You have to think, if someone managed to hack into Grant's youtube profile, why would they just post a random post like that. Don't think so. Its obviously him and he should have admitted it.

Its not the act thats annoying, its the dihonesty when being caught red handed.

Anonymous said...

Dale.....are you taking the piss re this by any chance?
I reckon he either did it,or knew it was being done. He is a prize knob. If he didn't-then go to YouTube for the IPs as suggested-SUPERB opportunity to smear the LDs who are your competition after all.
PS. I won £250 off of my Lib Dem poster..... ;) RIIIIIIIIGHT
|N|B|W|

Anonymous said...

Surely, surely, someone wanting to use Shapps' account maliciously would post porn or somesuch rather than make an obviously mucked up attempt to astroturf. I'm afraid it sounds like Grant is trying to spare his blushes rather than fessin' up, which isn't a terribly honourable thing to do, especially so soon after happily casting spurious aspersions about the Lib Dems and their posters.

Unity said...

Should point that in order to get into Shapps' YouTube account, our 'mystery commentor' would need to know the exact e-mail address used to register the account (which YouTube doesn't disclose) as well as 'guess' the password.

Anonymous said...

If you want to implicate someone you wouldnt go round posting porn to a site would you. You would do something that other would immediately think was possible and astroturfing falls into that category.

Mind you its still a pretty minor offence compared to illegally raising 14m ponds to fight the last election!

troymolloy said...

Iain, maybe it's time to put a glossary on the site... in spite of other comments here, I can't be the only ill-informed visitor to this blog when it comes to buzzwords. Even having read that original LibDem blog I don't know what "astroturfing" is supposed to signify. This would suggest it's not a very useful buzzword - the best ones tend to be self-evident.

Mr Eugenides said...

I am deeply sceptical of Mr Shapps' excuse.

Not that I disapprove of screwing Lib Dems by any means necessary - they are the past masters at dirty campaigning, so I say screw 'em - but no, I ain't buying it.

Steve_Roberts said...

Troy,
Astroturf = fake grassroots

Leon said...

So this guy is head of e campaigning and doesn't know about very simple security matters? Doesn't that worry anyone at CCHQ?

Anyway, updated the PP post about all these defecations I mean defections:

http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/1239

Anonymous said...

"Iain, maybe it's time to put a glossary on the site... in spite of other comments here, I can't be the only ill-informed visitor to this blog when it comes to buzzwords. Even having read that original LibDem blog I don't know what "astroturfing" is supposed to signify. This would suggest it's not a very useful buzzword - the best ones tend to be self-evident."

Just stick the word in google. It's what I did, Grandad.

tom watson mp said...

What is astroturfing? Here at the failing Labour Party HQ we don't know our arses from our elbows

Chuck Unsworth said...

Best thing Shapps could have done would have been to keep his mouth shut. Actually the Tories need to steady up a bit. Anyway, what's needed here is a bit of forensic.

Hughes Views said...

Spin

Anonymous said...

The Libdems are collapsing more and more each day falling to worse levels of rubbish and dirty tricks.

Maybe if they actually went and campaigned like they used to they might actually win something!

Tim said...

Ahahahahaha! As predicted:

"What *will* Iain do? I’ve got odds on him providing ‘balance’ with an exclusive statement from Shapps."

Anonymous said...

Poor Mr Shapps. A liar pretending to be even more of an idiot than he actually is. Such a pity.

Stonch said...

Plausible deniability? I don't think so. What a fibber!

Tony said...

I am not going to call Grant a liar, but the explanation is a pretty weak one.

Whether he is responsible for it or not I cannot help thinking the commentary from Tim Ireland is so over the top it may as well be in orbit around Saturn.

Reading Ireland's analysis of the matter I think it is fair to say that never in the annals of human history has one bore said so much about so little to so few.

It really must be a slow week for him if this is all he has time to devote his energies to. He must have completed that project that some of his readers stumped up money to finance... you know the one that was delayed because he was so busy.

Anonymous said...

VERY GOOD point Unity.
|N|B|W|
PS. Why can't we have some Sedgefield dirt (seen the Labour hijacking vids - Twats LOL)

Erasmus said...

If you were clever, but shameless and had the ability to post stuff in the name of a political opponent, would you (a) post outrageously offensive material or (b) milder stuff that looked as if it could have come from your opponent -- and would be all the more damaging for its plausibility?

Anonymous said...

what a liar.

Tim said...

Fling your mud elsewhere, Cllr. Tony Sharp.

Energy was devoted to this because I have no love for losers who use sock-puppets to dupe the electorate. (Strange... I thought this would be the kind of thing that Iain would get outraged about... or at least a little curious.)

Anonymous said...

I have nothing against "psyops" - let's face it NuLab have been doing it for years but whether or not you believe Grant Shap's denial the fact remains that if his account was hacked then he has only himself to blame by using such a simple password. A 6 year old could "break that" in approximately 30 seconds. A complete amateur !!!!!!!!

dizzy said...

Personally on this I don't know what to believe. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest that someone had a stupid password. In fact I bet half the people who slate someone for having a dumb passwords have dumb passwords too. Personally speaking it sounds like a cock-up with the wrong browser.

However Unity's comment is pretty weird on this. Figuring out someone's email address... hmmmm.... difficult. Guessing a password... hmmm dictionary attack. Plus children's name, wife's name, mixed with date of birth, possible a house number, maybe even the car reg. Throw in a few 3's for e's and your laughing.

Basically, whether Grant Shapps is telling the truth or not, the idea that it is somehow difficult to figure out the username and password of someone is, well... bollocks. Human beings are stupid and wholly predictable after all esepcially when it comes to computers.

aardvark said...

troymolloy 4.31 PM said...

Iain, maybe it's time to put a glossary on the site... in spite of other comments here, I can't be the only ill-informed visitor to this blog when it comes to buzzwords. Even having read that original LibDem blog I don't know what "astroturfing" is supposed to signify....


A good source of enlightenment for buzzwords is:

http://www.urbandictionary.com/

Anonymous said...

In American politics and advertising, the term astroturfing pejoratively describes formal public relations projects which deliberately seek to engineer the impression of spontaneous public reactions to a politician or political grouping, product, service, event, etc. by many diverse and distributed individuals acting of their own volition, when in fact the efforts are centrally coordinated.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing

So now we all know!

Anonymous said...

Grant's alibi is either the weakest excuse since "Please sir ! The dog ate my homework "

or he genuinely shouldn't be let anywhere near a computer keyboard until he's attended a PC Security course. Unless of course it was a "cunning plan" to confuse the hackers as nobody would be so stupid as to use 1234 as their password . Would they ?

troymolloy said...

Steve_Roberts said...

Thanks for the enlightenment Steve; quite clever that one.

And to the humorous yet anonymous wassock calling me a Grandad (sic) - in fact I'm a web pro in my mid-20s ; spend half my life on the search engines, and know enough about Wikipedia to realise it makes sense to find things out from the horse's mouth. Still, thanks for your generous help.

Anonymous said...

Yes, if I wanted to crack open anyone's account I'd always try password 1234 first - I don't think. Pull the other one.

troymolloy said...

Thanks to aardvark too - will remember that link.

Ethelred the Unhinged said...

If you believe that, you will believe anything.

Anonymous said...

Unity is wrong - you can log in to YouTube with a username, you don't need an email. despite which, I still don't buy Grants weasally excuse for a second.

Tim said...

I'm loving that Dale is the only known netizen who's buying this denial (or claiming to).

Tim said...

On the passwords thing... Google appears to be pressing users over to Google accounts in place of their old YT accounts, thus the confusion.

It also need to be noted that Google and the Tory party get on very well indeed, so it should be a simple matter from Mr Shapps to have YT provide what information they can about the alleged miscreant.

freddie freeloader said...

Who cares whether he did or not? Everyone's at it, especially NuLab trolls.
Chris Paul may or not be interested to know that I'm responsible for half his appearances. And you won't be surprised that I'm not Freddie Freeloader either.
My real name is..BANG! Arrghhh!

aardvark said...

Amusing to compare the ponderous Wikipedia definition of ASTROTURFING highlighted by Anon 5.36 PM

In American politics and advertising, the term astroturfing pejoratively describes formal public relations projects which deliberately seek to engineer the impression of spontaneous public reactions to a politician or political grouping, product, service, event, etc. by many diverse and distributed individuals acting of their own volition, when in fact the efforts are centrally coordinated.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing

So now we all know!



with the beautifully succint definition offered by Steve_Roberts:

Astroturf = fake grassroots

Anonymous said...

I love the fact some Tories are so dozy they actually seem to believe Grant, that his pitifully protected account was hacked and a lib dem posted that comment. Er, sounds plausible.

Just imagine the scene, Mark Pack et al, sat in the Lib Dem HQ . . . Shifty Mark suddenly has a bright idea. "Wait a minute, what if I try to log on to Grant Shapp's Youtube account . . . just input his email. Now, what could his password be. How about "1234". Oh my God, it works!"

Accept that Grant has been caught out. His excuse is so weak. And accept, if you can without having heart attacks, that when it comes to dirty campaigning, you guys are more than happy to do it.

Madasafish said...

I believe the story - absolutely 100%.

I also believe in nursery rhymes and the tooth fairy.

Really, please do not insult our intelligence or are Conservative MPs that dumb?

Chris Paul said...

So you actually believe that load of Tory Tosh? Why wasn't it invented immediately?

Anonymous said...

" pretty minor offence compared to illegally raising 14m ponds"

was this posted by a Tory Toad in a hole?

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

I can't believe you just posted that. Oh well, it's your blog...

Chris Paul- leave the alliteration alone (ha!)- you're shit at it.

Mark Senior said...

Oh my gawd Iain , did you or Grant expect anyone to believe that load of rubbish . When in a hole stop digging .

Mark Valladares said...

A marvellous effort at sabotaging your own credibility, Iain. What on Earth were you thinking of when you wrote this?

Grant must have made you a damned good offer to persuade you to do it. A seat in the European Parliament perhaps, or a seat in the Lords (Baron Dale of Southall, anyone?)...

Of course, it could be worse, in that you might actually believe him. No, that's far too absurd...

ourman said...

Dale, you're making yourself look an idiot parroting this denial.

Who has 1234 as their password?

I don't believe you believe it either ? Who would.

James said...

Shapps would have been better advised to keep quiet. As it was he looked a bit silly. But his excuse is so lacking in credibility that he now looks far worse.

Bryan McGrath said...

Iain, shame on you!

Rule No.1 When in a hole stop digging

Kafka said...

Whilst accepting the cock-up as the most likely explanation, the other scenario is a long way from impossible, or even improbable.

As has been said, it doesn't take much guessing to get most people's passwords. They don't bother with changing them, making them secure in the first instance, not re-using them all over the place, not leaving them on post-its by the PC. I could go on.

DLTUSR(*ALL)

Chris Paul said...

Still hard to believe that ANYONE believes this cock and bull story from Schweppes.

aardvark said...

Grant 1234 Shapps is a Director of How To Corp Ltd which markets online tools. Currently, it is promoting iDovos, an identity protection service.

It sounds like he could use the service himself.

Chris Paul said...

MU: What's illiteration?

Dizzy: Natch, someone might have a very weak password. But then again if they're an e-campaigner that's a stretch. And if they've been getting impersonated for 48 hours and they don't change it that is waaaaay to much to stomach.

Anonymous said...

Iain,
Love(d) your blog.
The line you're running with is completely ridiculous.
Don't patronise us, you're a blogger. Don't be spun!!!!! or you'll lose your readers big time.
Grant's a good guy, he cocked up, live with it.

Anonymous said...

Fizzy information fro Sh. . . you know who!

Andy said...

Iain. People would respect you more as a political commentator if you had the balls to concede that Shapps did this himself and was caught out big time. I'm a Conservative and am no fool. You?

Carl Eve said...

Iain said: "Sometimes the story is not quite as good as one first thinks."

That reminds me... http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2007/06/exclusive-how-spinning-gordon-played.html

Like when four journalists all bother to contact you, deny what you claim and still you say they're lying?

I don't know whether that's a case of having ones cake and eating it or whether it's a case of a person in a glass house throwing stones. Do tell.