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Social Media and Politics: Truthiness and Astroturfing

By Jeremy Wagstaff (this is a column I wrote back in November. I’m repeating it here because of connections to astroturing in the HBGary/Anonymous case.) Just how social is social media? By which I mean: Can we trust it as a measure of what people think, what they may buy, how they may vote? Or is it as easy a place to manipulate as the real world. The answers to these questions aren’t of academic interest only. They go right to the heart of what may be our future. More and more of our world is online. And more and more of our online worldContinue readingSocial Media and Politics: Truthiness and Astroturfing

Social Media and Politics: Truthiness and Astroturfing

(This is a longer version of my syndicated newspaper column) By Jeremy Wagstaff Just how social is social media? By which I mean: Can we trust it as a measure of what people think, what they may buy, how they may vote? Or is it as easy a place to manipulate as the real world? The answers to these questions aren’t of academic interest only. They go right to the heart of what may be our future. More and more of our world is online. And more and more of our online world is social media: A quarter of web pages viewed in the U.S.Continue readingSocial Media and Politics: Truthiness and Astroturfing

User Generated Discontent

I know in my previous post it sounded like user-generated content isn’t the be-all and end-all, but it has its place. Like this one, from iTunes Store, where Ricky Gervais’ new show is available as an audiobook for 10 quid. The description is the usual blurb-like drivel written by an intern and proof-read by someone on their toilet break: Ricky delivers hilarious and insightful observations on the nature of fame, and in the process displays his talent as Britain’s foremost comedian to the fullest extent yet. I’ll leave copywriters and editors to paw over that particular bit of prose. But what I love is theContinue readingUser Generated Discontent

Domain Names as a Tool for Political Control?

A case that addresses all sorts of issues, and, at the same time, none of them. Reuters.com reported a few days ago that The authorities in Kazakhstan, angered by a British comedian’s satirical portrayal of a boorish, sexist and racist Kazakh television reporter (Borat Sagdiyev ), have pulled the plug on his alter ego’s Web site. Sacha Baron Cohen plays Borat in his “Da Ali G Show” and last month he used the character’s Web site www.borat.kz to respond sarcastically to legal threats from the Central Asian state’s Foreign Ministry. A government-appointed organization regulating Web sites that end in the .kz domain name for KazakhstanContinue readingDomain Names as a Tool for Political Control?

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