Monday, July 15, 2013

Search engine battle for election

I saw odd news about internet tricking today.

Yahoo News: “Arrest” as a related word to a candidate of upper house: malicious manipulation? (in Japanese)

You know, internet search engines such as Google suggest some related words when you input a word. It helps you to know which words are focused related to the matter that you are concerned. Sometimes this system directly supports you. For example, if you type “Kindle” at the Google search window, the words “Kindle Paperwhite”, “Kindle fire”, and “Kindle fire HD” appear. Then, you can know about Kindle series.

One day, a person who wanted to learn about a candidate of an upper house typed his name. Then, the search engine replied “Mr. XXX, arrest”.
How did he feel to watch it?

Usually, this kind of related word appears after a lot of people searched the words together. You may imagine the news published that the candidate was arrested. However, the fact was that the candidate was not arrested.
Actually, several blogs seemed to exist describing his arrest. But they denied his arrest. According to this article, it is possible that some malicious persons attempted to relate the candidate to the word “arrest” intentionally.

In Japan, advertisement via internet for election has been released since this summer. Surprisingly, it had been illegal for candidates to write his opinion into BBS during the definite term of election. Therefore, it is just recently that a lot of politicians began to use the internet to improve their reputation. Most of them are struggling to optimize internet to win the election.
Of course, it is possible that some people opposing a certain candidate will try to humiliate him with internet. The Japanese government has warned of mimicking a candidate.

I am doubtful that this case was planned by an organization opposing the candidate. I think it was too lenient as a negative campaign.

For citizens, it is essential to have literacy for using internet.
Although the system of related word is convenient, we should not depend on it completely.
Convenient system must be polluted by other noise. There are innumerous computer viruses. We see a lot of spam emails everyday. It is as the same as real direct mails.
I think it is in vain to regulate this kind of plots. We can only ignore the noise.

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