April 2, 2007
I find there to be an incredible discrepancy in attitude reports on the internet, which continues to go unacknowledged by many major news outlets. Websites such as CNN have polls where surfers can vote on various topics. Besides the usual issues regarding the wording of the poll and the likelihood of getting opinions from certain politically aligned demographics, there are other problems unique to the internet. The most obvious of which is the fact that the poll is only on the internet. Everyone who is voting likely has a computer and is therefore of a certain income level. It’s a large jump to state that the attitude of internet users is similar to the attitude of most Americans.
A greater problem has to do with the mobilization of large groups of users. An excellent example of this was CNN’s poll regarding the belief in a cover up related to the events of September 11th. In 2004 a CNN online poll showed that 89% believed there’s been a cover up by the current administration. Why I view this poll to be inaccurate is because I’m aware of the number of conspiracy website which directed surfers (traffic) to vote in these polls whilst they were up. The number of people who believe in a cover up and were directed to the poll is completely disproportionate to those who just stumbled upon it. It is true that other sites which are oppose this belief could send their traffic to the poll as well, but such sites are less motivated and less popular then the conspiratorial ones.