Most Read
    Image 01 Image 02 Image 03

    SSIDs: The new political lawn signs?

    SSIDs: The new political lawn signs?

    Service set identifiers, or SSIDs, are essentially the network names that people give to their wireless networks. It turns out many Americans–and people across the world–are turning to SSIDs as a unique way to express their political sentiments. Much in the same way a yard sign pronounces to the world your political proclivities, so too can the naming of your SSID.

    Researchers at Open Signal Maps used their database of 75 million geolocated routers to map Obama sentiment on a global scale. While this data is by no means representative, and clearly not everyone names their wireless networks according to their politics, it did reveal some interesting findings:

    According to this eccentric measure of sentiment Obama is much more popular outside of the US than within. Why is this? It may be that Obama is genuinely more popular in the rest of the world but maybe it is because outside of the US people are less likely to express negative sentiments towards politicians in this manner….

    The hardest part of this analysis was assigning sentiment values. It was immediately clear that even state of the art natural language software would be unable to parse “ObamaDaClown”, “ObamaPrezNaaaaw” or “Obamarama” let alone determine whether these reflect negative or positive sentiments. So we put the routers into Excel and went through them by hand. Even then there were some riddles, does “Obama_is_a_socialist” reflect negative sentiment? To many Europeans it would not, but in a US context (and this was a US router, indeed one of several with similar messages) we judged it a criticism.

    To give it a test, I zoomed in on my part of the country. It seems like they got it pretty right, “Obama08,” “ObamaMama,” and “ILoVeObAma!!” were designated as pro.

    “OBAMA SUCKS,” “Obama Bin Biden,” and “Obama_is_a_huge_clown,” and my personal favorite, “OMG-ObamaMustGO-Wake UP People!” as anti…

    And “ObamaLlama,” “Obamaniqua,” and “AIR_FORCE_ONE_OBAMA_EDITION” as not sure.

    If nothing else, this is inspiring me to get more creative with my own SSID “yard sign.” Look up your own neighborhood on the map here.

    Any good ones out there among you?


    Donations tax deductible
    to the full extent allowed by law.



    baldilocks | June 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    “Obama is a Kenyan Communist,” from…Los Angeles!

    billdyszel | June 13, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Some routers allow multiple SSIDs, so you could have a “lawn sign” SSID and another one that you actually use. Or one for each of the 7 dwarves or each Supreme Court Justice. The possibilities are endless.

    Does anyone know how (if you can), to change an existing SSID name. I have Time Warner. What makes me mad is for years, my wireless network was Bohemian. Then about a year ago, TW came out and updated the equipment and the tech named it himself and just used my name. Didn’t notice until several weeks later when I was having connection problems. Kinda creeps me out to have my name being beamed out there.

      DesertViking in reply to Bohemian. | June 13, 2012 at 5:19 pm

      It depends on your equipment… but in general, it’s just a matter of logging into the router and finding the page that has the SSID setting and changing it. You may have to make adjustments to any clients that connect to the router.

      I have a high end router that allows multiple SSID’s as separate sub-networks. I may just have to add a few new colorfully named sub-nets to it this weekend.

      unitron in reply to Bohemian. | June 13, 2012 at 10:46 pm

      First of all, you should have your router set to not broadcast your SSID.

      That said (assuming they didn’t bother to give you an owner’s manual or a driver cd with a pdf of the manual, look on the router for the brand and model number and perhaps the version number as well, and plug that into Google along with the words “owner’s manual”.

      If that doesn’t get you a link to a copy of the owner’s manual, try searching the router brand and model number plus the terms “default IP address” and “default password”.

      What you’re looking for is the number in the form which the router uses on your home network.

      That’s the inward facing address that your computers and TiVos and such see.

      It may well have an outward facing address which is assigned to it by your cable modem which you don’t need to worry about.

      You’re also looking for the default user name and password.

      Once you have that info, you open up a browser window and type that number into the address bar at the top.

      For example, the Linksys WRT54G has a default address of

      It has a blank default user name and the default password is “admin”

      Other brands or models might have something like

      User: admin

      Password: 1234

      You put the number into the address bar of the browser and hit Enter or click whatever you click to load web pages and it will probably bring up a dialog box where you enter the user name and password, and when you do that successfully it’ll bring up a web page that’s not out on the internet, but is stored in the router.

      You’ll find lots of stuff on that page to monkey with, most of which you shouldn’t monkey with.

      Having the manual will help you find the part where you can change the SSID and toggle broadcast of it on or off.

      That number in the form Each set of xxx can be from 0 to 255

      Leading zeros are suppressed, so would be

      In the example I gave of the Linksys, the address of the entire network is and is the address of everything on the network collectively, what’s called the broadcast address.

      Your computers and such will have addresses between and

      It’s possible to give specific addresses within that range to specific things on your home network (that’s called a fixed IP address), but that’s another lesson for another time.

    Leave a Comment

    Leave a Reply

    You must be logged in to post a comment.

    Notify me of followup comments via e-mail (or subscribe without commenting.)

    Font Resize
    Contrast Mode
    Send this to a friend