Fake PR

The internet has made one type of fake PR easier to do. That is putting names onto phony comments to the FCC. The Federal Communications Commission has been deluged with opinions for and against net neutrality. It turns out many of them were made up with names stolen from databases. Unfortunately, one of the taken names was that of a reporter who blew the whistle on the ersatz grassroots campaign. The result of the fake PR is that FCC commissioners can more easily ignore the public reaction to their voting. The campaign backfired. The problem is larger than a government agency. It means any solicitation of public opinion is open to distortion and falsehood. One cannot simply count comments for and against and arrive at a public sentiment. There needs to be stricter standards for asking the public what it thinks.