There's a mashup of Google Maps and the donor list for California's successful anti-gay-marriage initiative, Proposition 8. Some people on the map are being harassed, no laughing matter. What is hilarious?
The map application has become an icon for the extremes to which political transparency can be taken — but whoever made it prefers to remain completely anonymous. The application is registered anonymously through GoDaddy and offers no contact information.
Visitors can see markers indicating a contributor's name, approximate location, amount donated and, if the donor listed it, employer. That is often enough information for interested parties to find the rest - like an e-mail or home address...
Some donors to groups supporting the measure have received death threats and envelopes containing a powdery white substance, and their businesses have been boycotted.
It's entirely possible to defend the map as an example of how public disclosure laws are supposed to work. Campaign finance laws were consciously designed so that people's neighbors and political opponents know how they donate money.
But when the people behind a public shaming tool insist on lurking in the shadows, they cover their particular tactical effort in a veneer of slime. And they risk embarrassing a political campaign that has had enough PR failures already.