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Illegal VMA stream gives Jill Stein an unexpected presidential boost from MTV awards

Illegal VMA stream gives Jill Stein an unexpected presidential boost from MTV awards

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She's already earned a new internet audience with her eulogy for Harambe (the gorilla that died), but presidential candidate Jill Stein's site might be getting even more visitors tonight. Google ranked Stein's site as the first and second hits for the search terms "VMA livestream," "VMA live free," and "VMA online stream" during the awards show on Sunday night, after a spammer posted a link to an illegal online broadcast of the MTV show on her community page.

Spam is the top result for a number of VMA stream searches

It's hard to work out exactly what combination of factors propelled this particular bit of spam to Google's first page, but it's simpler to see how it ended up on Stein's site in the first place. The Green candidate's "events" page includes a "grassroots" section, an open area that was designed to allow supporters to advertise their own meetups and rallies, but has been used by spammers to promote their own less-than-legal live streams of sporting events and big TV shows. Posts pushing NFL preseason game streams sit alongside legitimate political events like "Jill Phonebanking Party" and "Get on Board Day Meetup," an apparently lax moderation policy allowing them to linger while other spam targets have scrubbed them from their open spaces.

The offending VMA stream post was deleted from Stein's site a few hours after the show closed, but the page ranking remains in Google's search engine. These spam posts are found across the internet, wherever there's a forum, message board, or classified ad space with particularly lax security or moderators. Usually, though, they're buried deep in the Google rankings, only visible if you're searching directly for free streams. But although "VMA live stream" — with a space — highlighted more official sources, the Stein-hosted spam beat popular legal options, including MTV's own stream, to the top of Google's rankings for a number of related searches. Jill Stein may be in a distant fourth place, but if she can continue her hot streak of memes and streams, she might get even more of the internet's attention.