The Emerging Dangers of ‘CrowdSourcing”

A start-up called Crowds on Demand, launched in 2012, has established itself as a popular resource for any party in need of guests. [CNN]

Is this NOT living in the Matrix — where everything you see is beginning to be manufactured?

“Recruits are generally actors, who are expected be enthusiastic, but not so zealous as to risk arrest. Critically, they must look and sound authentic.”

Finally it is here, reality TV democracy in the era of Citizens United/”Start-Ups”/unlimited funding/minimum Wage Stagnation. As someone who grew up for about twenty years in India, I have heard many references to paid crowds for political rallies back home — (definitely in southern india — where 15–20 years ago crowds of people would be arranged by paying small amount of cash, a booze packet, 2 meals or any combination thereof). This has also been done on a smaller scale at trade shows and conferences, where good looking women are hired as ‘eye candy’.

But on a larger scale, this game finally gets recast as ‘Crowds on Demand”, complete with non-disclosure agreements, pre-event coaching, dress codes, etc.

With stuff like this happening, I find it amusing when media pundits make fun of other countries (North Korea?)for “propaganda videos” and“staged marches”. It is the same thing happening, only in this case, it is done by private business, not the state — so it is perfectly fine!

This is what happens when people are struggling to make ends meet and cannot pay to go to see actors. Actors end up working for reality TV while going incognito. I don’t fault them at all. The only thing is people who are participating in the democratic process, need to be even more critical and realize that “seeing isn’t believing anymore”.

“When a clients spends $10,000 on a protest and wins a $20 million settlement, that’s a clear return on investment,” says the entrepreneur.

One can already barely trust any of the large media houses, since most of them tend to be owned by a few mega corporations. The political process is increasingly shaped by a small number of families (~158). [NYT source].

To be fair to Mr. Swart, he has this to say:

“We didn’t invent this,” the entrepreneur says. “People are just looking for ways to spread a message in an unconventional, interesting and effective way.

Welcome to the the new era of Reality TV democracy.

[Update: this has been covered in 2013 by IBT]