Quickie: Fake Pollsters

We’ve discussed the suspicious tactics of fake news sites, and we will at some point (I promise!) look into fake science publishers and conferences. Well now we have a new great flavour of fakery: faux pollsters.

Henry Enton recently (as in, within the past 10 days; I know Almanacker time is a bit different to others’) wrote at FiveThirtyEight about a particular polling group Delphi Analytica, who ticks a lot of our “Suspicious as Butts” list of reputability:

  • Popped up practically overnight
  • Registered using DomainsByProxy (i.e., the site is not registered in the name of a founder or organization)
  • No names clearly associated with the organization, and those that are eventually given are either pseudonyms or likely fake people
  • The motivation created for the site was based on stirring the pot and/or making money (though in this case, through influencing political betting instead of ad revenue)

However, what’s unusual is that there apparently was even a contact email, by which Enton could reach someone.

Unfortunately, the site is now down, with its associated Twitter account removed and the last post on their Medium account dating back to 25 July 2017. (Non-Wayback archive here: http://archive.is/WhBpQ) However, a similar suspicious pollster company, CSP Polling, is still up; though its latest site post is dated to 1 July 2017 (archive of webpage: http://archive.is/Rvvem) , as recently as 23 August 2017 they’ve been talking mad smack about FiveThirtyEight through their Twitter account (Fig. 1).

Cropped screencap of CPS Polling Twitter feed
Figure 1. Pictured: Mad smack. 

The reaction of CSP Polling reminds me of that from the fake science publishing group when they were called out for being sketchier than a cartoonist’s rough drafts. Only in that case, it’s less tu quoque arguments and more using the names of reputable researchers without their permission and refusing to withdraw the papers of junior researchers while taking their money. So the former is better in that regard, I guess?

Anyway, I really don’t give two butts about political betting markets or whatever. What I do care about is 1) the common traits among different fake organizations (news or otherwise), and 2) the influence these have on the real-life opinions of real-life people. Check out the FiveThirtyEight article in-full here: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/fake-polls-are-a-real-problem/

Featured image is of one of those fancy polls with the brass tops and fuzzy ropes, taken and edited by yours truly.

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