Larry Lessig on the corrupting influence of money

Larry Lessig has a new book called Republic, Lost which discusses the corrupting influence of money on politics. I would highly recommend the book, because it gets to the heart of why things so many things in Washington, D.C. seem broken today and how to fix them.

If you don’t have the time to read the book right now, you’re in luck. Lessig recently stopped by Google and gave a brief overview of the themes from the book. I had the honor of introducing him, and the video is live on the web now. Lessig’s talk is about 45 minutes long (the rest of the video is questions and answers from Googlers), and I promise it’s worth your time: Lessig is a fantastic presenter. Watch the talk right here:

If you’re wondering what you can do–besides buying Lessig’s book, of course–Lessig has joined with a new organization that just launched called United Republic. It’s coalition of people from the right, center, and left tackling the problems of money in politics. And if you agree with United Republic’s ideal that “Democracy is not for sale” then you can sign up to volunteer, organize, donate, or just stay in touch.

Beware of fake Matts leaving comments

A lot of the time, I dispel misconceptions by leaving comments on blogs. That works great, except for the rare occasion when someone pretends to be me and leaves a rude, fake, or otherwise untrue blog comment. Over the previous decade, I’ve only seen 4-5 times where someone impersonated me. But in the last month, I’ve seen at least three nasty comments written by “fake Matt Cutts” impersonators.

The first fake-Matt comment I remember was over Marketing Pilgrim around November 14th, 2011. When Frank Reed checked out the fake comment, it came from 74.120.13.132, which is an exit router for Tor. That means someone went to some trouble to hide their tracks.

The second not-Matt comment was on November 18th, 2011. The impersonator wrote:

Normally we do not comment on ranking methods but I’ll explain a misconception: input from manual raters is used only in the rarest of cases when a non-brand cracks the top ten for high value money terms.

The tone (and content) of the comment was so far off that Matt McGee questioned whether it was really me, and I was quickly able to clarify that I never wrote that comment.

The third one I’ve seen was just a few days ago on Search Engine Journal, and included gems like

[Google is] very transparent. Some sites do not even have an address listed, yet we have everything, including the credit card numbers for adword advertisers. That is a strong signal for us to list them ahead in organic search as well.

The claim that “Google ranks AdWords advertisers higher in our search results” is fake and untrue; it was one of the first myths I debunked when I got online.

The web isn’t built to prevent impersonation. On many places around the web, anyone can leave a comment with someone else’s name. So if you see a comment that claims to be from me, but makes crazy claims (e.g. that we preference AdWords advertisers in our search results), let me know. I’m happy to verify whether I wrote a comment, e.g. with a tweet. Thanks.

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