Internet Irony at Its Finest: Lifelock Ads at Daily Kos

by on March 1, 2013 · 4 comments

in Media

ron burgundy

By Doug Porter

So I’m making my afternoon spin through the interwebs, looking to see if the world ended or anything. I’ve got my “list”; some mainstream media, a few lefty blogs, a couple of righty blogs and a few LOL Catz.

I’m looking for amusement as much as news. After all, it’s Friday afternoon and I don’t another news roundup column due until Monday.

There on Daily Kos, I spot the headline: It’s got  a couple of keywords that stoke my interest:

Is Rush Limbaugh’s Most Loyal Advertiser A Scam?

Clicky, clicky, I go.

I’m always looking for bad news about the Rushbo. What follows on Kos after the click is a terrific story. No doubt about it, one of Rush Limbaugh’s main advertisers is on the very shady side. I’m actually surprised he’s got any sponsors left.

After all, over 2400 sponsors have told broadcast outlets not to associate their ads with Rush over the last year. Something about him calling Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke a slut last year after she testified before congress about birth control was the breaking point for a lot of people.

The Daily Kos story, by a diariest who’s calls him/herself ‘Proglegs’. He/she is a regular contributor of interesting and original content. The sponsor in question is a company called Lifelock. They make the claim that you’ll be protected from identity theft if you’ll send them $110 a year.

Like the man whose show they sponsor, Lifelock is a lot of bluster with very little luster. From the Daily Kos story:

Lifelock began as the brainchild of a man named Robert Maynard.  The way Maynard told the story, he was arrested when someone who had stolen his identity failed to pay back a $16,000 loan from a casino in Las Vegas.  While sitting in jail mulling over his wrongful imprisonment–just like Martin Luther King, Jr. in Birmingham–he had the idea of starting up a company that would protect users from identity theft.  

Only problem?  The identity theft never happened.  Maynard was the person who took out the loan and failed to pay it back.

 [snip]

You’d think things could only get better for this company after such a rough start.  You’d be wrong.  Maynard resigned in 2007, after the information above became public.  But that’s just where Lifelock’s problems really began in earnest.

CEO Todd Davis began his Social Security Number on the company’s website to promote Lifelock, in effect daring identity thieves to steal it.  Lifelock even ran television ads with a truck emblazoned with the number driving around the bustling streets of New York City.  In 2007, Wired broke the news that a man in Ft. Worth had used Davis‘s SSN to obtain a loan.  In the months that followed, Davis’s identity was successfully stolen again and again–a total of 13 times.

Oh, boy. These folks are some kind of questionable. They’ve been sued for corporate identity theft by a competitor.  In 2010 Lifelock agreed to pay $12 million to settle a complaint they were engaged in “egregious case of deceptive advertising.”  with the FTC and 35 state attorneys general.

They continue to operate, plying on peoples’ fears with a package of services largely available for no cost to anybody willing to do a Google search. And since fear is their main product, advertising on the Rush Limbaugh show makes sense, right?

But wait. Here comes the ironic part. Lots of web sites get revenue from ads placed by distant computers using algorithms that, in theory, match the ad to the story or the known profile of the person reading it.

As I scrolled up after reading the story, there, plastered across the top of the page containing an article full of damming accusations was an ad for-you guessed it- Lifelock.

Daily Kos Sweet Irony

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Doug Porter

Doug Porter was active in the early days of the alternative press in San Diego, contributing to the OB Liberator, the print version of the OB Rag, the San Diego Door, and the San Diego Street Journal. He went on to have a 35 year career in the Hospitality business and decided to go back into raising hell when he retired. He received a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for Daily Reporting and Writing: Opinion/Editorial in 2013. He is a cancer survivor and lives in North Park.
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Anna Daniels March 1, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Too funny. You won the algorithm lottery?

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avatar Carlota Ferguson March 2, 2013 at 3:50 pm

We probably passed like ships in the night during your career in the late 60′s in alternative press in San Diego. Unfortunately, my mind was a bit hazed at the time so names escape me. It WAS fun though. Great to see this article about proglegs. I’m a HUGE follower since I am active with #StopRush now.
I vaguely remember some old houses and buildings in downtown San Diego where all the movers and shakers were hanging out. Wasn’t there a Lowell something?

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avatar Doug Porter March 2, 2013 at 4:38 pm

That would be Lowell Bergman, graduated from the Street Journal to big time TV producer. Last I heard he was with PBS Frontline. Cheers.

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avatar John Lawrence March 2, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Lowell Bergman was the guy who outed the tobacco companies when they all denied before Congress that they knew cigarettes caused cancer. They knew it and Lowell Bergman outed them. He has done a lot of investigative reporting for Frontline, and in my opinion has done more good than all the other 60s radicals put together.

Bergman also reported an award-winning investigation of the credit card business [The Secret History of the Credit Card (2004)].

Bergman is the Reva and David Logan Distinguished Professor of Investigative Reporting at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley.

Just google him and you’ll find out more.

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