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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Manipulating Content, Stuffing Ballots, & Faking Lists Are The American Way


There are troubling examples of our failing participatory democracy everywhere, and the process has accelerated in the share-me digital age.  Here are a few examples:

·         A PR firm, Sunshine Sachs, reports The New York Times, was accused of editing Wikipedia pages of its star clients to remove negative references.  This was done through paid editors that didn’t disclose their relationship to the firm, a violation of Wikipedia’s standards.  The crowd-sourced, group-edited site has repeatedly had issues with false information, censored information, and improperly sourced material.

·         The all-star voting for Major League baseball is done by fans.  There have been cases where fans stuffed paper ballots to get their hometown favorites into the All-Star game, often when the player was not performing like a true all-star.  It got worse this year when people were allowed to cast online votes, apparently with no limitation.  As a result, though voting is not yet final, almost all of the players of one team, the KC Royals, could make the starting lineup.  They’re a good team, but they don’t have a deserving all-star at every position.

·         Bestseller lists are based on book sales but the lists can be manipulated and don’t account for certain sales made outside of registered bookstore and online channels. The truly bestselling books probably don’t match up with two-thirds of the ones on official lists.

·         When things are searched for on Google, the list of what comes up and the order it comes up is not always in direct correlation to a meaningful or even fair standard.  Certainly, the algorithm used is not transparent, yet search influences knowledge, news, commerce and politics.

·         Non-felons, who are over age 18 and are legal citizens have the right to vote but on average, only half do in any given election, sometimes at far less numbers for equally important primaries.  How can we have a responsible government when no one accepts the responsibility to vote and to be informed?

Our society depends on there being a legitimate structure.  When we can’t depend on voting systems to be legitimate or information reliable or our awards to be doled out on the merits, we are a compromised nation.  Americans know or suspect that money influences everything.  It’s a factor in in politics and other aspects of our lives.

It’s up to institutions to refrain from such practices and for citizens and consumers to expose such stuff and call bullshit on all of the times powerful forces seek to manipulate the facts of reality.  Lies, cover-ups, pay-offs, or blackmail are what run America.  

The truth is out there – but so is a falsehood – so beware of which one you have stumbled upon.  It’s getting harder to know if what one is being told is truth is in fact a fact lie.  Read, question, research – and share what you find.  We need to crowdsource the truth!

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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