I Was Only In Favor Of Gay Marriage On The Internet. And Only For A Limited Time

For about an hour yesterday, visitors to Sen. John McCain's MySpace page were treated to a stunning announcement from the 2008 presidential candidate. "Today I announce that I have reversed my position and come out in full support of gay marriage," the message read. "Particularly marriage between two passionate females." Cleary this was the work of some malicious hacker, right? Well, sort of. The senator's Web site was using a template designed by a Mike Davidson, a designer and founder of the news aggregator and social site Newsvine.com. Davidson had posted the template code on his own personal blog, sharing it with the world. Where the senator ran afoul of the designer was in failing to credit him as the designer (as others, such as Nelly Furtado on her MySpace page, had). Worse still, McCain's profile drew images directly from Davidson's server--which technically constitutes bandwidth theft, not to mention a massive breach of netiquette.

So Davidson altered one of the images that McCain was pulling off his server, planting the absurd message to supporters, which came down as soon as McCain's camp realized their transgression. "The problem was corrected," was all a campaign spokesman would say on the record. Two wrongs may not make a right (even online), but the retaliatory prank just proves to less-technologically savvy politicians that the bar is the highest it's ever been when it comes to walking the Web walk this election. "I am not anti-McCain at all," Davidson explains to NEWSWEEK. "If anything it's probably driving more traffic to his page. But I think you've gotta be careful when you enter a world like MySpace--you've got to know the rules, what's acceptable and what's not. If you're customizing your own profile, you should use your own images." Now there's a good piece of free policy advice.