Technology has been a friend to the Ron Paul campaign. The presidential hopeful may be lacking in the polls, but Paul is a hit in cyberspace. Using Web 2.0 sites such as News Corp.'s
If only PayPal were proving as pleasant for Paul. Earlier this week, a pro-Paul fundraising group named Granny Warriors had raised the $55,600 required to initiate a recount of the New Hampshire primary. Just before the Tuesday afternoon deadline to bankroll the recount, PayPal froze the Granny Warriors account.
Before long, conspiracy theories began to swirl, especially since PayPal is owned by eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY). CEO Meg Whitman is chummy with Paul rival Mitt Romney and has assisted in his campaign.
If you think this article is about to take a political turn, you're at the wrong site. I'm here to discuss the significant role that PayPal and other sites are playing in this election. After all, one of Paul's biggest cyberspace victories has been his ability to solicit a ton of electronic donations through PayPal itself. That fact may make accusations that PayPal -- a workhorse of a fundraising tool for Paul over the past several months -- is taking a political stand seem a bit far-fetched. I'd even joke that PayPal should be renamed "PayPaul," given the campaign's dependence on the convenient platform. Besides, word has since come out that the Granny Warriors' account has been unfrozen, and the recount money has made its way to the New Hampshire secretary of state's office. A suspiciously large last-minute donation appears to have triggered the freeze on PayPal's end.
As an e-cash exchange, PayPal is supposed to be suspicious when large chunks of money pour into an account and the accountholder wants to drain it dry at a moment's notice. Those are the precautions one must take to battle Web fraud.
As of last night, Paul was still accepting PayPal donations. He knows better than to close off his access to the leading online transaction service. His website's landing page even keeps a running tally of the money it's raised this quarter, sending a shout-out to the most recent individuals who have donated to the campaign.
More than any other election, this is a presidential campaign loaded with Web-savvy campaigns. Search for Barack Obama and Rudy Giuliani on popular sites like Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's
Who could have fathomed YouTube-powered debates, or candidates like John Edwards updating his followers through a site like Twitter, during the 2004 election? Neither site even existed back then.
I can only imagine the role that the Web will play in 2012, and how much each candidate then will be relying on -- wait for it -- PayPaul.