FOX News: Obama's Effort at Online Transparency Stymied by Internet TrollsSubmitted by MMJ Ministry on Tue, 04/14/2009 - 11:38
President Obama's pledge to open the White House up to the public through online forums faces an irksome challenge: a plague of Internet "trolls" -- troublemakers who work to derail cyber-conversations through harassing and inflammatory posts.
The problem became immediately apparent last month when Obama held an online "town hall" forum on the economy and invited the public to post questions on the White House Web site.
Those questions, in turn, were voted on by users to determine which ones the president would answer.
Three and a half million people participated in the event, but the "trolls" had their way: Following a coordinated campaign by marijuana advocates to vote their topic to the top of the list, questions on the future of the U.S. dollar and the rising unemployment rate were superseded by questions about legalizing pot as an economic remedy.
The president himself had a good laugh about the volume of marijuana-related questions, saying, "I don't know what this says about the online audience -- we want to make sure that it was answered. The answer is, no, I don't think that is a good strategy to grow our economy."
CNET: Obama's virtual town hall takes legalize-pot detour
As any major Web site can attest, any online voting begs to be influenced by special interests. CNBC yanked a 2007 presidential poll after enthusiastic Ron Paul supporters boosted their candidate to 75 percent, and the FreeRepublic.com crowd recently flooded a Web vote about stem cell funding.