There are six MySpace pages claiming to be Tony Blair's, see this one for example. They are all fakes, but Peter Hain's in genuine, well one out of the three is, as are those of a number of politicians here, on Facebook, Bebo etc. But are they really the politician?
The purpose of setting up a social networking site is to offer an insight into the real person behind the political persona; to be something other than the woman or man who is fielding Paxman's questions or delivering the party line on the News, Question Time or whatever. The idea is that the person becomes authentic in the eyes of those who interact with their pages.
Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC Technology Correspondent, uncovers an interesting insight into the use of social networking, quoting a friend he writes: "I met somebody the other day who told me that online networking was so important, and he didn't have the time, he was paying somebody to be him online. To blog, network, post etc . £1,000 a month too... Apparently it's a new occupation which he reckons already numbers hundreds of people, paid to be other people!"
This is no major surprise, after all we can imagine that the more high profile the public figure the less time they have, ergo the more likely they are to have staff to update their blogs, write on people's walls and update their profiles. The problem is that you expect that there would be some instruction on what to write, that it would not be situation where the supposed individual was totally detached from their network.
One can imagine that PR and Advertising agencies will begin to add this as a service, next we know there will be virtually identical profiles appearing where every politician has a pet, is family oriented, cares about the constituency, has the Arctic Monkeys on their Ipod, watches Lost while having a vision of a better society; or has this already happened