OK, so no one actually took me up on my plea for ideas as to how we might improve the believability/accountability of political ads. Here’s one techno-possibility: The Truthy Project, out of Indiana University. Yes, the name was inspired by Stephen Colbert’s oft-imitated use of “truthiness” (not actually his coinage), mentioned today in an interesting piece in The New York Times Magazine and recently also in FastCompany, wherein it is described as “a sophisticated new Twitter-based research tool that combines data mining, social network analysis and crowdsourcing to uncover deceptive tactics and misinformation” on Twitter. The article continues to say that Truthy can therefore detect “when PR teams inject memes into the discourse by disguising them as genuine “grassroots” behavior. With the simple click of a “Truthy” button, users can call BS on claims that smell fishy.” (Please note that the Truthy architecture, below, includes “Klatsch Analysis”… coincidence?)
If technology can provide a collective conscience to tisk-tisk on Twitter, why not in other outlets for political ads? Of course, there’s still the question of, even if exposed, will enough people on any side of the political spectrum care about the lies to make a difference? Do we all just want to believe what we want to believe, and the truth be damned (and our society along with it)?
One other sobering notion for all of us in marketing, guilty by association with those vilified PR teams above… if Truthy can be applied to political tweets, why not also commercial mis-messaging? I suppose the “easy” fix then would be for all to stick to the simple truth about their brands. (Let the laughter begin…)