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Guardian’s “lobby an American swing voter” hacked and deemed a failure?

For those who haven?t been following it, the Guardian have been running an experiment that enabled non-Americans to lobby American voters in swing-state Clark County, Ohio.

I have to hand it to the Guardian for coming up, and executing, such a bold idea. I’m sure we’re not the only ones to have been eagerly awaiting the outcome of this experiment.

From what I can gather, these emails were unsolicited (ie, voters just started receiving lobby emails from foreigners). Clearly, this pissed a lot of voters off – I think I’d be pretty peeved if people started writing to me on how to vote (even thought I don’t – eek, I probably shouldn’t be admitting that).

Anyway, Guardian have now pulled the experiment due to the amount of criticism from those on the receiving end of the emails. There are also reports that their entire database of voter email addresses was hacked into, but I haven?t seen enough credible sources corroborate it yet.

There’s an interesting post-mortem article on it, but the key paragraph is as follows…

In a poll I conducted among Guardian staff who had been following the story, of 71 respondents, 13 thought it a legitimate and worthwhile exercise, 14 were undecided and 44 were against it. Among the reasons given by the latter, reflecting complaints coming from the US, were that intervention in the democratic processes of another country was not “legitimate newspaper behaviour”; and that it was arrogant and self-aggrandising.

Whilst it’s easy to smirk a little, I do genuinely have a lot of respect for Guardian doing something a bit “edgy” like this. I hope that the outcome of this experiment isn’t used an excuse for not trying something equally daring in the future.

Published in BBC News Website dotBen Interactive Systems News Tools