January 29, 2010

Lupe fiasco: Hackers spoil MAB’s Summer Breeze poll

The Major Activities Board (MAB) canceled its Summer Breeze poll yesterday after hackers distorted voting results.

Thousands of votes were logged for one artist overnight, suggesting foul play, MAB Chair and fourth-year Liat Bird said in an e-mail interview. The poll, run by, received over 6,000 responses by Thursday night; Summer Breeze garners an annual attendance of around 2,000 each year.

“We’ll continue accepting suggestions for bands, but at this point we’ll have to put together Summer Breeze without really taking the poll into account,” Bird said.

A Web site called Hacker’s Lane explains a method for manipulating PollDaddy surveys: Internet browsers offer privacy settings that enable a user to log multiple votes by disabling cookies, which allow Web sites to track users.

Bird said MAB had anticipated that someone might break the one-vote-per-person rule, but the magnitude of the hack was unexpected.

“While we always accepted that as a possibility, and assumed some people would fail the honor system and vote twice, maybe three times, it’s never been this rampant before. The poll is generally a good gauge for what the student body is interested in, and now it’s really just been totally discredited.”

Bird said she did not know who had foiled the system.

MAB will take now take a “short-term, labor-intense” route, culling suggestions by e-mail to determine what acts are both cost-effective and available, while still trying to pick groups “that we think have a broad appeal and that are good musically,” Bird said.

On Wednesday night, Lupe Fiasco and The National had received far and away the most votes, but according to Bird, “Kid Cudi gained something like 2,000 votes overnight.”