Sunday, October 26, 2014

Will Sock Puppet Deception Sway Your Vote?

As the discussions of ballot propositions heat up, it is fun to read the comments sections of news articles. It is a way to explore the rationale for decision making and a gauge of public perception.  It is a way to learn new arguments that may be compelling for or against the initiatives.  It is interesting to see how others attempt to persuade voters to make a decision, one way or another.

But are there deliberate efforts to blanket comments sections and social media with the same cut-and-paste messages?  Is there an effort to do so under different usernames to build the deceptive appearance of swelling support?

A quick Google search suggests this is the case.

For example the comments section of the Stateman article that deliberately deceives readers by making detection of the DNA encoding herbicide resistance to "pesticides", you'll find a comment from "Noah Dazinger" a name attached to someone that shows up frequently in comments sections arguing against transgenic technology.

If you take the content of this post and google it, you can see that it appears on many sites across the web, oftentimes with different usernames.  What you find is that the same sock puppetry is placing the same information in multiple places.

This one is from this site 

Here's one from this site, same cut-n-paste information under a different username.


And this one from this site.

And this one from this site.

And this one from this site.

And the same thing on this site, under the name "Farmy"

And on this website she (I'm pretty sure I know who it is) cuts the pasted post into two separate posts.

And there are many, many more.

The work appears to be from the same person that runs GMO Free USA.  A quick check of the usernames reveals many other cases of redundant cut-and-paste web pollution, a single user attempting to create a sense of agreement and consensus where there is none.

My advice.
  • Don't take advice from anyone hiding behind a username.
  • Check what appear to be actual names. 
  • They are often people that do not exist.If they have what appears to be a legitimate identity, check when they started the account.  It usually is within days of posting.

Again, classic activist deception about science.  Will they win your vote this way? 

A Response to Carey Gillam