The Problem of Sock Puppets

Friday, April 22, 2011

Transcript

This month, a user on the website Metafilter started a thread critiquing Dilbert creator Scott Adams. Other site regulars piled on, but one newly registered user mounted a strident defense of Adams. The new user reminded everyone that Scott Adams was a “multi-millionaire,” that Scott Adams possessed a “certified genius IQ” and that Scott Adams’s detractors were angry haters. Metafilter moderator Josh Millard talks to Brooke about what you do when a celebrity joins your website anonymously in order to attack his critics.

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Comments [17]

Derek DeVries from Grand Rapids, MI

This story was utterly brilliant; kudos to OTM.

My only contribution to the discussion is a minor disagreement with Josh Millard on one aspect of the commentary: the reason that people in positions of power do this isn't necessarily for petty reasons.

They do it because these discussion forums and social media platforms are more credible than the traditional media channels that these individuals have access to.

Distrust in the media and in advertising in general is extraordinarily high, and some research has pointed to many people finding blogs to be more authoritative than the news media:

Political blogs more accurate than newspapers, say those who read both
http://news.byu.edu/archive09-May-blogs.aspx

May. 10 2011 05:00 PM
Jasmine Holton

Overall when you sock puppet you don't have enough confidence in yourself to create your name based off of what you do for a living. so people will like you and so people wont. You just have to learn not to care. And I know some career are based off of popularity but all you can do is be your best. And if someone already have an opinion about you, then its most likely not going to change because of one random person.

May. 10 2011 10:32 AM
Stacy Harris from Nashville, TN

Before someone corrects me, I fully realize that I used the word "cartoonists" when I meant "cartoonist" and wrote "only if the agenda-driven story was a fair one" when I meant "were a fair one."

Stacy Harris
Publisher/Executive Editor/Media Critic
Stacy's Music Row Report
http://www.stacyharris.com

May. 03 2011 11:25 PM
Connor Jeremy Calill from Raleigh

I think that while on the one hand people need to be honest about who they are at the same time however the common person would disregard the self promoting comments people make about themselves. People who self promote themselves are not always doing it to put down their critics, they may actually have a valid point. They may also be defending themselves from a critic who may have been harsher than usual, which is ok because everyone deserves the right to defend themselves and their actions, but they should make it known that they are doing it, not by hiding behind an online user name.
I think overall the report was very good. It brought up a lot of good points of how the internet is giving people this false idea that they can become their own defender, when in fact there will always be people who know who you are. However the article did not discuss why people would resort to this kind of behavior, which I think that if they had included that it would have made the report more well rounded. I would definitely recommend this article to others because it is a story that is relevant for our times especially in the internet age.

Apr. 29 2011 11:20 PM
Connor Jeremy Calill from Raleigh

I agree with what Josh Millard says about how anonymity on the internet is ok but that the problem arises when people won't be honest when they are a stakeholder in what they are discussing. I disagree however with what he says about how its not ok to go around and "High-five yourself by proxy." There is nothing wrong with a little self promotion as long as people know its you promoting yourself not anonymously. I also agree with a comment that Brooke Gladstone made about how “people who already have their own soapbox resort to this”. It seems so true that people with the most media exposure and money to get their faces and thoughts out there would need to be their own “number one fan” and defender from critics. I also feel that people need to grow a thicker skin and understand that not everyone is going to like them.

Apr. 29 2011 11:20 PM
Connor Jeremy Calill from Raleigh

The "On The Media" report I am critiquing this week is called "The Problem of Sock Puppets". The report was broadcast on April 22, 2011 and the story was reported on by Brooke Gladstone. The report is about "Sock-puppeting" which is a term used to describe famous people, or really anyone who uses anonymous posts made by themselves to self promote of defend themselves from their critics. The site uses two examples to highlight the problem of "Sock-puppeting" . The first example is the recent case dealing with Dilbert creator Scott Adams, who was caught making a defense for himself under the user name PlannedChaos. In his posts he reminded critics that Scott Adams was a “multi-millionaire,” that Scott Adams possessed a “certified genius IQ” and that Scott Adams’ detractors were angry haters. He was ousted by the sites moderators who gave him a choice, to either revel himself or to leave the site. the second example was the a story about how the US military was developing software to manipulate the social media, using fake online persona. the goal of this would be to allow the military to create a false consensus and crowd out unwanted opinions.

Apr. 29 2011 11:19 PM
Jasmine Holton

I feel as if the stock puppets were promoting negativity such as critiquing himself being cocky, as if he was better than others. Within the entertainment of the stock puppets, it was also getting the point across and informing the viewers that he is not as good as everyone thinks, as they can hear him humiliating himself trying to sound or make himself appear better as he was failing on that specific job.
In my opinion when people sock puppet then they have no confidence in themselves or what they are doing. When you create an anonymous account to praise yourself then you know that someone will go off of what you say. Which is influencing the way others view you. People feel as if they will not get caught. But when they do people will see you as a lier and think less of you then what they did before.
I feel as if when people sock puppet, they are afraid to have someone else judge their opinions of issues so they use sock puppeting to get away with it. A lot of the sock puppeters have a good point but don’t want extra issues to follow through with it. I honestly do not care about the sock puppeters, as long as its not to an over-extent.

Apr. 28 2011 10:57 AM
Mark Richard from Columbus, Ohio

'hole' Foods?

Apr. 26 2011 04:56 PM
Agnieszka Maria Zielinska from Chicago

Yay on the levity at the end of the segment!

Apr. 26 2011 12:41 PM
CEG

If you are in the public eye and putting your work and creativity out there for the world to see, you should not only expect but welcome others criticism, especially since criticism, positive or negative, brings attention towards your work.

Apr. 26 2011 11:28 AM
Aj

I would agree that it is a little crazy that a person of fame would need to create a character name to defend themselves from critiques. I feel that they would have for power facing them (the critiques) face to face. Why hide behind a fake name it really just makes you seem weaker and gives the critiques even more to talk about.

Apr. 26 2011 01:04 AM
David Crandall from Baltimore, MD

You might look up Fernando Pessoa. http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2003/9/11/15138/9002

For a time in early 20th Century Lisbon, a large chunk of Portugal's literary and intellectual scene was made up of Pessoa and his (72+!) aliases - one of which was named "Fernando Pessoa-himself" to distinguish that person from the actual Fernando Pessoa... Seems to have worked pretty well for him, and I understand a number of the aliases carried on quite a lively discourse...

Apr. 24 2011 03:00 PM
Stacy Harris from Nashville, TN

I don't understand that which is done with malicious intent. In the last week alone ANONYMOUS posters described me as "mentally ill" and as a "pig" in response to a defamatory wire story, circulated by 142 Associated Press subscribers, in which phone conversations over two days were condensed to a couple of off-the-record statements that I would have authorized only if the agenda-driven story was a fair one.

I recently learned that months ago someone posted that I had been fired from THE TENNESSEAN, a newspaper that never hired me!

I'm not on Facebook yet a Facebook page has been created for Stacy's Music Row Report (without my prior knowledge, let alone my consent). Similarly, there have been Wikipedia pages created in my name, both personal and professional, the pages removed after the suggestion that they were sock puppet-driven.

I didn't even know what a sock puppet was but I did know, contrary to what Wikipedia posted, that I am not Rachel Hirschfeld's half-sister.

Apr. 24 2011 02:17 PM
Stacy Harris from Nashville, TN

Corrected post- please disregard earlier post

I thoroughly identify with Scott Adams in the sense that, apart from the fact that I am not a cartoonists and that my signature appears whenever I post feedback on the Web such as I am doing now, I am often targeted for the same reasons as he.

I have to be somewhat detached, if not thick-skinned, about being on the receving end of name-calling as well as responding, if I so choose, to someone who does not have all of the facts (in the instance where all of the facts are not provided), though I will likely not respond if someone simply chooses to ignore the facts

To be continued due to "On the Media" space limitations...

Stacy Harris

Publisher/Executive Editor/Media Critic

Stacy's Music Row Report

http://www.stacyharris.com

Apr. 24 2011 01:53 PM
Stacy Harris from Nashville, TN

I thorough identify with Scott Adams in the sense that, apart from the fact that I am not a cartoonists and that my signature appears whenever I post feedback on the Web such as I am doing now, I am often targeted for the same reasons.

I have to be somewhat detached, if not thick-skinned, about being on the receving end of name-calling as well as responding, if I so chose, to someone who does not have all of the facts (in the instance where all of the facts are not provided) or simply simply choose to ignore them.

Stacy Harris
Publisher/Executive Editor/Media Critic
Stacy's Music Row Report
http://www.stacyharris.com

Apr. 24 2011 01:36 PM
Alex from New York

I cannot believe that OTM never did a story like this on NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg’s Campaign, which must of had staff somewhere in a bunker doing exactly this… promoting his candidacy on news-web-sites, blogs, and You-Tube… For example, we all know that he only one by a very slim margin… but his campaign You-Tube videos had views numbering in the tens of thousands while his opponents only numbered a few hundred. It was defiantly rigged by a self promoting campaign task forces made up of people and software…

Apr. 24 2011 02:16 AM
Josh Millard from Portland, OR

Hey, thanks so much for having me on the show! I grew up listening to public radio, so it's a nice twist to be able to tell my folks to turn on KOPB and hear me chatting with Brooke.

Apr. 23 2011 11:38 AM

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