How Should Social Media Handle Election Polls That Turned Out To Be Misinformation?

from the no-not-that-misinformation dept

It appears that the various election polls that predicted Joe Biden would become the 46th President of the United States eventually proved accurate -- the current President's temper tantrum notwithstanding -- but that doesn't mean the polls did a good job. In fact, most people are recognizing that the pollsters were wrong in many, many ways. They predicted a much bigger win for Biden, including multiple states that easily went to Trump. They completely flubbed many down ballot House and Senate races as well. Pollsters are now trying to figure out what went wrong and what these misses mean, coming on the heels of a set of bad predictions in 2016 as well. It's likely there isn't any simple answer, but a variety of factors involved.

However, what interests me is the simple fact that it turned out that the major polls were actually widely shared misinformation that spread all over social media, presenting incorrect information about the election -- some of which almost certainly had the likelihood of impacting voting behavior.

Now, to be clear, I'm not saying the polls were disinformation deliberately spread with the knowledge that it was false. I'm saying they were misinformation. Information that turned out to be false, but was spread, often widely, by those who believed it or wanted to believe it. And, it was exactly the kind of misinformation that had a decent likelihood of impacting voting behavior.

But that leaves open a big question: with so many people (including many in the media and a few legislators) demanding that social media websites "crack down" on "misinformation", especially with regards to an election, the fact that polling that turned out to be misinformation presents something of a challenge. I think most people would say that it would be crazy to say that social media shouldn't allow polling information to be spread (or even to go viral). Yet, with so many people calling for a crackdown on "misinformation" how do you distinguish the two?

Some will argue that they only mean the kinds of misinformation that is being spread with ill-intent, though that quickly leaps over to disinformation or requires social media companies to be the arbiters of "intent," which is not an easy task. Others will argue that this is more "well meaning" information, or that it's merely a prediction. But lots of other misinformation could fall into that category as well. Or some might argue that accurately reporting on what the polls say isn't misinformation -- since it's accurate reporting, even if the results don't match the predictions. But, again, the same could be said for other predictive bits of misinformation as well.

In short: any of the ways you might seek to distinguish these polls, you can almost certainly apply back to other forms of misinformation.

I raise this issue primarily to ask that people think much more carefully about what they're asking for when they demand that social media sites moderate "misinformation." Especially with an incoming Biden administration that has already suggested that one of its policy goals is to target misinformation online. It's one thing to say that, but it's another thing altogether to define misinformation in a manner that doesn't lead to plenty of perfectly legitimate information -- such as these misleading polls -- being targeted as well. At the very least, we should start to distinguish the important differences between misinformation and disinformation.

Perhaps, rather than demanding that the first response to misinformation be that it be removed, we should think about more ways to add more context around it instead.

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Filed Under: content moderation, disinformation, elections, misinformation, politics, polls


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2020 @ 9:40am

    It could be due to intentionally false input to skew results in an attempt to get their opposition to skip voting because their guy is sure to win.
    /tinfoil

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2020 @ 10:02am

      Re:

      If so, it didn't work. Democrat numbers were way up on 2016 and Trump got more votes this time than Hilary did in 2016.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Rastus, 9 Nov 2020 @ 3:46pm

        Re: Disinformation by Pollsters

        If the major polling companies openly used Ouija Boards as the basis of their public Election estimates -- would those estimates be Misinformation or Disinformation ?

        Pollsters "claim" to use scientific "Statistical Probability Sampling" as their objective basis of public opinion measurement -- but the pollsters absolutely know that approach no longer works at all due to widespread non-cooperation by the public to polling contact attempts.
        (95% of the people in the 'random sample' initially selected by mainstream polls nowadays will NOT respond/cooperate).

        Modern political opinion polling has no scientific basis whatsoever and the Big Name pollsters know it.
        It's a huge con game. Disinformation

        The corporate News and Social Media should know it too.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2020 @ 4:24pm

          Re: Re: Disinformation by Pollsters

          Another major problem is that reporters rarely tell readers much about the polls. They almost never include the exact wording of the question; when I've looked that up, I've found the reporter's summary is often missing nuance that could change the answers (probably not a huge problem for "Trump vs. BIden" type polls, though). They tend not to say how the people were contacted. If cold-calling, they're getting the opinions of people who don't hang up on these calls, and I can't believe that group represents the average person. (Also, aren't they banned from calling cellphones?) Similarly for internet polls—how does one run a poll and get people to answer it? Can't use banner ads due to banner blinding; interstitials will make people close the tab.

          The reports all tend to just summarize this as "x% of people polled said they'd vote for Trump, y% for Biden; accurate to within Z percentage points 19 times out of 20" (the last part meaning very little to non-statisticians). But did they adjust for the fact the old people are probably more likely to talk to strangers making unsolicited calls? Do the pollsters have any idea whether one group might be more likely to refuse to answer or even lie? They don't even tell us how many people didn't pick up, or answered and hung up.

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        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 10 Nov 2020 @ 12:52am

          Re: Re: Disinformation by Pollsters

          "Modern political opinion polling has no scientific basis whatsoever and the Big Name pollsters know it.
          It's a huge con game. Disinformation."

          Mmm...Not quite. Polling is a valid scientific methodology if you can rely on the people asked to tell the truth.

          In the US there's a known source of error; Some 30% of the voting population consists of badly educated tribalist shitbag closet racist with tendencies to hysterical hyperbole who actively spurn the concept of science in favor of whatever trending conspiracy theory has "liberals", "leftists" and "ze globalist jews" be responsible for turning the frogs gay.

          Ask those 30% who they vote for and pot odds are they'll assume you're taking their names down so the deep state can come and kidnap your kids and sell them on e-bay to the satanic pedo ring running the world.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2020 @ 10:03am

    How Should Social Media Handle ...

    However they choose. Those are their platforms, not ours, and they have the right to choose what is and is not hosted there as well as full editorial control over the same.

    We, the users (and non-users) of these platforms are not in a position to tell them how to run their platforms. Neither is the government.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 9 Nov 2020 @ 10:21am

      Re:

      Yes, they can run their platforms however they want, but I think many platforms have benefited greatly from public discussions about how people think they should run their platforms. That's not saying they must run it the way people suggest (because every suggestion is different). But to exclude the idea of a public discussion over this seems weird?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2020 @ 10:30am

        Re: Re:

        many platforms have benefited greatly from public discussions about how people think they should run their platforms

        Have they though? Or have they simply reacted to public outcry?

        I'm not saying we should never discuss how those platforms, or anything else for that matter, should be run. We have as much right to have those discussions as the platforms do to ignore us. But fantasizing about being a public think-tank that will drive what Twitter does next is a little silly. And I'm sure whatever this discussion results in would be taken about as well as any of us accept unsolicited advice.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2020 @ 12:32pm

        Re: Re:

        But to exclude the idea of a public discussion over this seems weird?

        But that's exactly what you're implying that Twitter should do.

        By having a discussion of "What should Twitter do in 20/20 hindsight?" You're effectively signaling to others that Twitter should be open to the idea of creating their own Ministry of Truth. Revising anything that although plausible / factual at the time of publication, turns out to be false days / weeks / or even years in the future. Possibly even striking it from public record outright.

        Make no mistake about what a "This information may be inaccurate" tag implies: Falsehood. Many people turn their brains off when they reach that conclusion, even if that fact has a huge asterisk next to it. Changing the post to reflect modern viewpoints is historical revisionism. Never mind the issue of facts once proven false, but proven true again with additional evidence later on. Science does this on a regular basis. Should every post have a currently updated list of peer review findings?

        It's one thing to say it's false and give proof in a future report, but it's another thing entirely to post that tag above the original comment. Imagine archive.org's recreation of it. Not everything can be preserved properly due to the ever changing nature of the web. What happens if the only copy that winds up being hosted there is a version of the post after it was disproven? (For example, a post made by a newly elected president back when they were running for their first city office?) What if the tag data wasn't preserved properly? (Because of some new web API.) How would a person visiting archive.org quote or interpret it? One such interpretation is "It was proven false at a later date.", but another is "It was known to be false at the time of the original posting."

        Historical revisionism is frowned upon for good reason. It removes the context that people had to work with in the past, and limits our understanding of it in the future.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2020 @ 10:21am

      Re:

      Well, in the aggregate we do have the power to collectively put a platform out of business simply by not going there.

      Facebook's algorithm is not about providing us with what we need to see, not even about providing us with what we want to see, it is about providing us with what will cause us to stay longer and return more often. If that happens to provide us with the others, that is simply a happy accident, not the design. If we want Facebook (and other platforms) to serve our needs, rather than their own, we have to learn the difference and embrace the power of "no" - in other words, vote with our feet.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Comboman, 9 Nov 2020 @ 10:06am

    Predictions cannot be true or false (until it's too late)

    Moderators should worry about whether statements are provably true or false. Predictions (from polls to weather forecasts) by their nature are neither true nor false (until after the fact), so just let them be. If polls continue to be poor, people will just ignore them anyway.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 9 Nov 2020 @ 10:23am

      Re: Predictions cannot be true or false (until it's too late)

      What about predictions like... "If we let the government mandate masks, next thing they'll mandate is giving up guns." Or "The covid vaccines they are creating will enslave our children."

      These are also predictions that may be proven true or false after the fact.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2020 @ 10:35am

        Re: Re: Predictions cannot be true or false (until it's too late

        Free Speech, until it isn't. "We" should do absolutely nothing about it lest we forfeit the 1A altogether.

        If the statement was "COVID vaccines are enslaving our children!" when that is not, in fact, the case then that would be a lie, not a prediction. I'm happy that Twitter, et. al., have taken on flagging such BS for what it is but that was their choice. If they choose to extend that to "probable mis/disinformation" then all the better. Saying that they will do so is just a prediction, and wishful thinking as well.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2020 @ 12:43pm

        Re: Re: Predictions cannot be true or false (until it's too late

        "If we let the government mandate masks, ...

        The government coming for my mask? They're welcome to try. They can take my mask from my cold, dead ... face.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        crade (profile), 9 Nov 2020 @ 1:07pm

        Re: Re: Predictions cannot be true or false (until it's too late

        The problem with your examples is that they aren't predictions at all they are false claims about the current state that will supposedly be proven later. They aren't claiming that "although the current state of the vaccine is complete fine, they predict in the future some change, they are claiming that the vaccine is bad now and "you will see I'm right" later. The only part that is prediction is the "you will see I'm right" part.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2020 @ 1:09pm

        Re: Re: Predictions cannot be true or false (until it's too late

        What about predictions like... "If we let the government mandate masks, next thing they'll mandate is giving up guns." Or "The covid vaccines they are creating will enslave our children."

        What about predictions like saying the Bills are going to win the Superbowl, and it comes out completely wrong? How is that any different than predicting Biden will win the presidency?

        I disagree with you Mike as I don't think you can call election polls misinformation; election polls usually don't contain data that would be predictions like mask mandates, taking guns or vaccines to enslave children.

        I wouldn't consider anything about the polls to be misinformation unless completely manipulated in order to show a non-realistic outcome, but those usually come with the caveat of "look at the source."

        After the election, Nate Silver said something along the lines of "if you think our polls were all wrong, fuck you, we did a good job."

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Tanner Andrews (profile), 11 Nov 2020 @ 3:55am

        Re: Re: Predictions cannot be true or false (until it's too late

        I predict that the sun will rise in the west tomorrow morning. Also that taxes will decline in Volusia County.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    crade (profile), 9 Nov 2020 @ 10:12am

    The information wasn't complete enough to accurately predict the future, but that hardly makes it false.

    A poll tells you people were asked and tells you the answers it got. The poll information is probably and accurate report, just misinterpreted as being representative of what will happen in the election

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2020 @ 10:16am

      Re:

      I'm not even sure what polls people are talking about that were so wrong. The one's I was watching turned out to be 100% accurate.

      There were 8 states/districts that they could not predict. 6 of those went for Trump, 2 went for Biden. The rest they nailed.

      The problem is that people want the polls to predict everything and be 100% right. But that's not the nature of polls. There will always be things that the best polls can says is we don't know.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 9 Nov 2020 @ 10:34am

        Re: Re:

        "I'm not even sure what polls people are talking about that were so wrong. The one's I was watching turned out to be 100% accurate"

        I think overall it was underestimated how many people would still vote for Trump after the obvious disaster of the last 4 years. But, was that due to the way the polls were run, or just a subset of people who would lie and/or avoid the polls? If the latter, is there really anything they can do to account for people deliberately skewing the results to an unknown degree?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 10 Nov 2020 @ 1:03am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "But, was that due to the way the polls were run, or just a subset of people who would lie and/or avoid the polls?"

          Occam gets too little exercise these days but this one's pretty easy, as all we need is one or two major error source; With 30% of the voting population being an ill-educated horde of MAGA hats fully convinced if the democrats win they're cummin fer ahr children! And ahr Guns!" - odds are good they'll perceive any attempt to poll them as an attempt to build a target list.

          "If the latter, is there really anything they can do to account for people deliberately skewing the results to an unknown degree?"

          Not really, no. The polls become useless if you have to ask a multiple choice question and assume that anyone who will vote for the red choice is likely to lie about it because it's assumed the guy asking the question is an NWO stooge aiming to turn your frogs gay in a sinister plot which ends with your guns being taken away. 😣

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2020 @ 10:14am

    But was it even misinformation?

    Really, who can say that if the vote had been held at the time the last polls were taken, without the general public having any knowledge of those polls, that the results would have differed from the polls? Plus, although polls are often reported as "A has an X point lead over B", what they actually say is that A will have a result between XAlow and XAhigh 95% of the time and B will have ... Can we really dispute that? Also, even though there were some major discrepancies (like Wisconsin) a lot of the polls were within their confidence intervals. There are questions to be asked - why were polls in some states so wildly off (while others were pretty close) and why was most if not all of the variance in the Republican direction, but polls are so indefinite in what they actually say that it's really hard to categorically identify them as misinformation.

    Perhaps the problem isn't with the polls themselves so much as a widespread lack of understanding of what polls actually say and mean.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 9 Nov 2020 @ 10:17am

    Should we forecast?

    If a poll "impacts voter behavior", how do we even know if it was wrong? If weather forecasts are often wrong, should all weather forecasts be blocked? Prediction related to COVID was wrong several times, so if the the black death comes around, should we block all predictions? Should classification of carcinogens be banned because we don't actually know who will get cancer?

    Prediction of the future is a very special case.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      TFG, 9 Nov 2020 @ 11:39am

      Re: Should we forecast?

      I would highly recommend not comparing election polls to weather forecasts, as there are some very key distinctions between the two that make them incomparable.

      Specifically, weather forecasts can be wrong or right, but their existence does not actually have any causative effect on the weather.

      On the other hand, election polls, being as they are reports and predictions of what people will do, can actually have a causative effect on the outcome of the prediction. It's an open question as to how much it does affect the outcome, and not one I can speak to, but the point remains that the polls themselves can alter the outcome, since those who pay attention to the polls could feasibly make different choices based on those polls.

      Ergo, weather forecasts and election polls are not analogous.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2020 @ 12:47pm

        Re: Re: Should we forecast?

        Oh my goodness!

        Heisenpolls!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Coyne Tibbets (profile), 9 Nov 2020 @ 3:43pm

        Re: Re: Should we forecast?

        Suppose the goal is to identify practical means of distinguish:

        1) A poll that wiil influence the election
        2) A poll that will influence an election in an incorrect way

        To accomplish (1) you will need to know the forecast model that is used and whether or not it is correctly applied and/or applied without bias. How do you propose that a media company might practically do that?

        To accomplish (2) you need to know the eventual outcome of the election. To predict that, I suppose you plan to use a poll...which takes us back to (1).

        The forecasting model is the common feature of all the items I named. It comes to a question of which a particular model -- or any model, for that matter -- will produce correct results.

        I suppose, of course you could use the time-honored method of blockinig polls that, in your opinion, influence the election in the direction you don't like...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 10 Nov 2020 @ 1:10am

        Re: Re: Should we forecast?

        "Specifically, weather forecasts can be wrong or right, but their existence does not actually have any causative effect on the weather."

        Weather forecasts use accurate objective data in a predictive model which may be crude and insufficient to properly handle the data. You can argue the gathered data may be incomplete but what there is can, at least, often be verified.

        Polling uses the equivalent of what some guy says in a pub in a simple statistical analysis. This is the big difference, as the ~50% of the voters still voting Trump had, in their own minds, probable reason to lie their hearts out to anyone taking their name down for some potential "democrat hit squad".

        "Ergo, weather forecasts and election polls are not analogous."

        Yeah, it's very rare that atmospheric phenomena lie and cheat because they believe the weatherman is in on a heinous plot which somehow ends in taking their guns away and selling their children to the satanist pedo ring allegedly running the world.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bruce C., 9 Nov 2020 @ 10:19am

    Some meta-discussion...

    Interesting that the polling error(s) may be worse on this election than in 2016, but Biden's popular vote was big enough that the pollsters still picked the right winner...
    If we define misinformation as simply false information regardless of motivation or cause, this means we need a deeper classification of types of misinformation.

    Some possible examples:
    1) 20/20 hindsight: Best knowledge available that later turns out to be false. Erroneous polls partly fall into this category, but may fall into others. Another example is changes in scientific theory over a longer time period like Newtonian gravity vs. Relativity.
    2) Errors in modeling. This is where one of your underlying assumptions is incorrect in your theoretical model and your information is based on the model. This is the charitable explanation for the initial CDC recommendation that masks were not a good method to prevent spread of COVID19.
    3) errors in data collection - Garbage in, garbage out. But there can be different reasons for bad data: for example collecting survey data from the wrong distribution of respondents can be caused by poor understanding of the voting population, or by not being able to poll certain sections of the population due to lack of response.
    4) Glass half-full/half-empty - letting your preconceptions color your interpretation of the results.
    5) Sensationalism: A constant problem in the media where they emphasize the most extreme/unexpected information even if that's only a small portion of the whole story.
    6) Out of context - often related to sensationalism. Technically true, but only under limited circumstances.
    7) You should have known better. Publishing something as fact with insufficient research. Negligent disregard for the facts.
    8) Lies, damn lies and statistics. - straight disinformation. Willful disregard for the facts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Bruce C., 9 Nov 2020 @ 10:22am

      Re: Some meta-discussion...

      On the main question of how should social media handle bad polling? Bad polls are as much a part of the historical record as the actual vote. The data need to preserved, ust as much as census/apportionment data prior to the civil war that counted a slave as 3/5 of a person. The evolution of knowledge is just as important as the knowledge itself.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      MathFox, 9 Nov 2020 @ 11:11am

      Re: Some meta-discussion...

      Technically, any statistical result should come with error estimates. I am fairly sure the poll-statisticians generate them. And as a Mathematician I'm inclined to say that poll data is valid when the election result is within the declared error band.
      Uncertainty intervals are hard to understand for journalists, they don't tend to get reported. (They are also hard to understand for the average person...) So selective reporting and lack of statistical knowledge is the cause for the misunderstanding of polls.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 9 Nov 2020 @ 10:28pm

        Re: Re: Some meta-discussion...

        "Uncertainty intervals are hard to understand for journalists, they don't tend to get reported."

        QFT. When people whine about "polls" or "scientists" or any technical information being wrong, they're usually complaining about the way some layman journalists decided to present the poll/study/whatever and not what the original source actually said. That's why you get people attacking climate scientists for being "wrong" because the worst case scenario presented by the media didn't come to pass, when in reality the actual warming we've seen is well within the predictions made in the actual study.

        Deliberately biased media is a problem, but they might also be inadvertently causing problems because they don't really understand what they're reporting on.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      BernardoVerda (profile), 9 Nov 2020 @ 11:22am

      Re: Some meta-discussion...

      9) Vote suppression
      10) rigged or hacked electronic voting systems
      11) ...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Thad (profile), 9 Nov 2020 @ 10:24am

    But the polls weren't wrong. This result was in the margin of error. Nate Silver had an article the morning of the election titled
    Biden’s Favored In Our Final Presidential Forecast, But It’s A Fine Line Between A Landslide And A Nail-Biter
    . It wound up being the latter. That was a predictable result. You can tell it was predictable because he predicted it.

    He's also written extensively about how the 2016 polls weren't wrong either.

    The polls themselves aren't misinformation. Press coverage misrepresenting the polls -- like, sadly, this article -- is.

    The problem is that people don't understand how to interpret polls, or how uncertainty (in the mathematical sense) works. They see a poll that says Biden will win the popular vote with 53.4% of the vote to Trump's 45.4%, and then when the numbers wind up being (at the time of this writing) 51% to 48%, people proclaim that the poll was wrong. The poll wasn't wrong! The result is within its margin of error! Both numbers match the final result to within 3 points!

    I don't know what the solution to misinformation on social networks is. But I wish you'd use your discretion and not spread misinformation about polls on your website.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 9 Nov 2020 @ 10:25am

    if there is NO simple answer

    to a comment, then it comes down to opinion.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 9 Nov 2020 @ 10:32am

    The problem with the polls is twofold. One is that it's much harder to get people to answer polls to a meaningful degree than they used to. Most nowadays have methods to block unwanted callers and so standard cold calling methods won't work. You can't get decent information if a subset of the population won't even speak to you.

    The other is the mapping of the data. The polls weren't wrong in 2016 as such - Hillary won by a landslide... in the popular vote. The issue there was that Trump managed to win by just enough in some very specific areas that the popular vote was irrelevant.

    The issue with 2020 is likely a combination of both - they missed a subset of Trumpers thus making it less clear that they would vote in the numbers they did, while the polling didn't pick up on the micro areas where big changes could be made with fewer votes.

    How this can be fixed is unclear, but perhaps it just needs to be a change from the assumption that polls are always good data.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2020 @ 1:02pm

      Re:

      ...it's much harder to get people to answer polls to a meaningful degree ...

      There is also the fault of poorly constructed polls questions, leading the respondent, etc.

      You can't get decent information if a subset of the population won't even speak to you.

      Much as with anonymized data, you can determine something about that set of people by their failing to speak to you. What that is may not be relevant to the subject of the poll. But it might be.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2020 @ 10:58am

    I am part of the problem with pollsters. I don't intend to change. That they get it wrong is not my problem.

    One is I don't answer their random calls seeking input. They call me, they just get a ringing number while on my end, if you are not in my contact list, the phone isn't going to work for your calls. You can thank the last few years of robocalls for that defense.

    What my choices are for who I vote for is none of their business, it's my business, it's private, and it will stay that way.

    I am a first time voter for the state I now reside in. Good luck on figuring out my trends without a history. A projection made based on history isn't there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 9 Nov 2020 @ 11:04am

      Re:

      "I am a first time voter for the state I now reside in."

      Good for you. I hope you based your vote on real issues rather than the rampant misinformation that's infected so many.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glenn, 9 Nov 2020 @ 10:59am

    Polls of any kind have always been "misinformation." Sampling polls are always crap even more than opinion polls. The "answer" is to never take them seriously or, better yet, ignore them altogether. They really do nothing more than give jobs to people taking polls.

    Misinformation put Trump in the White House. We've got to make sure that can't happen again. The social education of Americans is sadly lacking. If all you want to hear or read only reinforces what you already think, then your life will be one fail after another.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 9 Nov 2020 @ 11:09am

      Re:

      "Sampling polls are always crap even more than opinion polls."

      Except, that's not really true. Certain pollsters in pre-Trump days gain prominence specifically because they were so accurate. Trump is a strange wildcard in the sense that he can spout such obvious crap and still get the people he's lying to turning out to vote for him. But, I'm not sure it's the pollsters' fault that "I will vote for the guy who directly caused my father to die a horrible death" is an actual voting position.

      "Misinformation put Trump in the White House."

      It did, but that misinformation didn't come from polls.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    External Pressure, 9 Nov 2020 @ 11:03am

    The Answer begins in Australia

    Let's see what the citizens of Australia do with "he who must not be named, ends with "doch" now that the Media Royal Commission Petition Has Been Presented To Parliament.

    I don't see any changes coming from the next U.S. administration in regarding media regulation until politician's have some form of effective cover.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 9 Nov 2020 @ 11:53am

      Re: The Answer begins in Australia

      I don't see any changes coming from the next U.S. administration in regarding media regulation until politician's have some form of effective cover.

      Also, that pesky first amendment.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Tanner Andrews (profile), 11 Nov 2020 @ 4:13am

      Re: The Answer begins in Australia

      the Media Royal Commission Petition Has Been Presented To Parliament

      ... where it has been tabled.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 9 Nov 2020 @ 12:24pm

    Pollster bias. I have yet to see a poll that wasn't looking for questions to be answered a certain way. We should assume all polls are biased and treat them that way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2020 @ 12:39pm

    Misinformation: I know it when I see it disproven.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2020 @ 3:02pm

    When demanding this and that be moderated, what most people really mean is any speech they personally dont like. But because saying that out loud is not politically correct, they have to use labels like "misinformation" as smokescreen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ddwornik, 9 Nov 2020 @ 4:06pm

    Strange interpretation of misinformation

    Polls usually list their methodology and how many responses they got from different groups etc.

    Just because they were wrong doesn't mean they're information, they accurately (legitimate ones anyway) described what they were reporting.

    Also, the polls weren't particularly bad, off a few percent in aggregate, which is to be expected (it's the far end of expected, but in the realm of normal).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 9 Nov 2020 @ 8:15pm

    The problem of professional frauds claiming climate science's predictions are wrong is bad enough without giving them more weapons.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Zane (profile), 9 Nov 2020 @ 11:04pm

    It's like forecasting the weather

    Think of it like a weather forecast - you don't call it misinformation because the weatherman says there is 55% chance it will rain in particular city it it turns out to be a dry day. I think you're over thinking this, polls are polls - they are based on the data that are available, and there is always an error of margin. That will be published too, even if media outlets choose not to publicise it. As long as there hasn't been a deliberate attempt to try and alter the result from what the data dictates, or ignore data just because you don't like what it says, you can't call it misinformation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 10 Nov 2020 @ 12:27am

      Re: It's like forecasting the weather

      That's a good analogy, with one problem - an inaccurate weather forecast doesn't change the outcome of the weather, but a misleading poll could affect the outcome of the election.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous, 13 Nov 2020 @ 6:27am

    Hey Mike Masnik

    If you dig deeper into who are the major donors of the major media companies(it's not hard to find out who they are, there are about six of them as you know), you might be able to see that the media was falsely spreading election misinformation based on their bias from their donors who control them. Who? Oh, I don't know, say the war-mongering, war profiteering military-industrial complex that wants to return to endless war.

    You yourself know how Biden is corrupt, how much the entertainment industry loves him for serving their interests pushing Fascist copyright agendas. You know who came to Biden's parties, who all the corrupt entities are. So it is beyond me as to how you aren't saying that the media projected a complete bias towards Trump. They are all against him, their millionaire, billionaire base all hate him for not pushing draconian copyright agendas, trying to bring our troops home(unsuccessfully), and trying to put an end to their war profiteering(unsuccessfully).

    Not to mention the fact they all push Biden out to be this "savior" for the country figure when he's lining up his cabinet members who are warmongers, war-profiteers, shitty-lobbyists. Then there is Dinsey(yes Disney) who owns 90% of the media, you can bet that there is a trail that leads their hand in allowing their networks to push these narratives of how bad Trump is going to lose by their "network of friends" who are within the mentioned groups. To them, it doesn't matter if they spread misinformation, so long as it gets them the results they desire a corrupt SOB president who will do what they warprofiteers and copyright industry wants. But this misinformation being spread is bigger than just what I'm saying, it's truly a swamp of contributing factors.

    I'd really love to read an article where you do some of your best writing from earlier years of sharp journalism where you connect the dots to earlier articles because a lot of what I'm talking about is from gathered information either you wrote here on Techdirt or articles written on Torrentfreak.

    Connect the dots and you could make this case to being exactly what you weren't saying this misinformation on polling is. That this is, in fact, a concerted effort by the warmongering, corrupt entertainment industry bodies who have collaborated together to get thier prefered corrupt candidate in, Biden.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 13 Nov 2020 @ 6:40am

      Re: Hey Mike Masnik

      It is always fun when the cult accidentally make it over to places where the sane people hang out. Your accuracy is so solid you can't even spell the name of the guy you're lying about correctly, even though it was written for you in the article.

      "That this is, in fact, a concerted effort by the warmongering, corrupt entertainment industry bodies who have collaborated together to get thier prefered corrupt candidate in, Biden."

      As opposed to the guy who's been deliberately killing hundreds of thousands of Americans including his supporters, while crashing the economy because he couldn't get that part right either? I can see why people would prefer that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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