Democratic Party Claims Legislator’s Twitter “Follows” Suggest Pornography Use
The Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) has accused State Representative Mike Dovilla, a Republican representing the 18th House District, of using state resources to view or distribute online pornography. According to a public records request filed by ODP, several adult-entertainment Twitter accounts were among the over 9,000 “followed” by Dovilla’s Twitter account, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.
Dovilla contends that the accounts – which appear to be “Twitterbots,” computer programs engineered to spam Twitter users – were followed temporarily by an automated service used to maintain his Twitter account.
Dovillas Twitter account is managed free of charge by UpSearch, a Berea-area technology advisory company. The companys founder, Shawn Upchurch, contributed money to Dovillas 2010 election campaign and often appears at economic forums hosted by Dovilla.
Using UpSearch, Dovilla’s Twitter account automatically follows any Twitter account that subscribes to Dovilla’s account for updates. This practice, referred to as “autofollowing,” is common among Twitter users who wish to quickly increase their reach through the social media service.
A Media Trackers analysis of Google search results for the term “Ohio House Democratic Caucus” reveals a more serious technical oversight. The Ohio House Democratic Caucus website has been compromised by spammers advertising Viagra and Cialis. At publication, links in Google results resolve to advertisements for erectile dysfunction medication, clearly resulting from a hacked content management system.
Common sense and a degree of technical knowledge suggest that advertisements for Viagra and Cialis via OhioHouseDems.com do not prove the party’s House leadership is selling pharmaceuticals on taxpayer time.
According to the ODP public records request, Dovilla uses his Twitter account “to communicate his official activity as a state representative of the 18th House District. As such, it might be construed by citizens that this is an official government account.” ODP is seeking records of every website Dovilla has viewed on state-issued devices since August 1, 2012.
The records request included screenshots taken to prove Dovillas Twitter account followed multiple pornographic accounts at one point in time.
Media Trackers contacted Dovillas campaign for comment, but calls were not returned in time for publication.