I have to admit that I know a little (though not much) about Ron Paul’s politics and I have nothing against him as a person or his political platform. When it comes to social media, on the other hand, he has fast become public enemy number one. Here’s what you can learn from Mr. Paul’s mistakes.
A few months ago, I was surprised by the candidate’s popularity on the various socially driven sites and thought to myself that was simply the result of an online democracy in action. A couple of days ago, however, this image was shattered due to an expose by Ron Sansone proving that this was no act of Democracy – this apparent popularity was simply a result of mass manipulation by Camp Paul.
Masquerading as genuine Digg Users (as well as MySpace. Facebook, YouTube, and Friendster users) in order to influence others is not ethical. It is schilling. If mass manipulation is the weapon of choice for the Paul camp, then I hope it does not translate to the methods of the man himself.
But it wasn’t the expose that brought Paul down. In fact for the most part, there was no expose necessary. Algorithmic moderation coupled with human moderation has been working well enough to recognize when stories are being submitted and gamed, and as a result, though these stories get in excess of a thousand votes, they are no longer promoted to the site’s front page:
From what I have read about Ron Paul, it seems that his beliefs are very much social media marketable. People that think they are helping him by submitting anything and everything about him and then gaming the submissions in an attempt to promote them are in fact doing more harm than good.
Socially driven sites reward natural behavior and severely punish manipulation. I hope that everyone learns from the mistakes made by Ron Paul’s supporters and rather than abusing socially driven sites, let the sites self-regulate.