All entries for Thursday 07 September 2006
September 07, 2006
I’m about to go and enjoy the hospitality of Virgin Trains for the day (lovely…). It’ll mean a quiet day on the blog from me, which I’m sure you’re devastated about. Don’t worry though, I’m assured that today’s a quiet day in Westminster so I won’t miss anything.
EDIT (11:30, Friday): For some reason I spent the journey with a living, breathing dog under my seat. I might upload a sneaky phone photo of it when I get home!
A coalition of pro-Israeli groups called GIYUS (Give Israel Your United Support) has launched a piece of software called Megaphone which brings up desktop alerts that encourage people to participate (and do so in a pro-Israeli fashion) in online polls, phone votes and discussion forums.
The website says:
Today’s conflicts are won by public opinion. Now is the time to be active and voice Israel’s side to the world.
What’s more, a spokesman from the Israeli Foreign Ministry has publicly called for Israelis abroad to download the software and get voting.
It’s potentially a controversial idea. By organising so carefully, GIYUS has the potential to sway almost any opinion poll in the world that allows anyone to vote.
BBC History magazine has already discovered that its polls can be swung in this way, and has had to pull a vote about whether holocaust denial should be a criminal offence.
Many will argue that GIYUS is essentially trying to ‘rig’ the polls in order to make Israel look better. But how easily influenced are people? If they see that 67% of people think holocaust denial should be made illegal, are they likely to change their mind?
GIYUS will say that they’re doing what they’re doing because Israel needs defending against the pro-Palestinian media. And while it may be a questionable thing to do, is it surprising given the way these polls operate? Perhaps this piece of software might make media organisations rely less on the power of the opinion poll (Sky News does it with depressing intensity). Otherwise we’ll now have to take such polls with a greater pinch of salt.