Thursday, May 9, 2013
Beward of comment threads being flooded with comments from people doing it for money
Here's a fun game: go down any comment thread about a hot-button topic where big money is at stake, such as climate change, and guess which human-caused-climate change deniers are simply standard-issue anti-science right wing cranks, and which are doing this for money?
To find out more about this form of astroturfing--check out this Guardian article that includes info from an astroturfer with a guilty conscience:
"After I wrote about online astroturfing in December, I was contacted by a whistleblower. He was part of a commercial team employed to infest internet forums and comment threads on behalf of corporate clients, promoting their causes and arguing with anyone who opposed them.
"Like the other members of the team, he posed as a disinterested member of the public. Or, to be more accurate, as a crowd of disinterested members of the public: he used 70 personas, both to avoid detection and to create the impression there was widespread support for his pro-corporate arguments."
Especially in technical areas many if not most honest commenters don't realize that they're duking it out with a pro who's there for the money.
The astroturfers are generally the ones who post long threads full of technical-sounding arguments and lots of links, where if you check out their logic, facts, and links, it's all a steaming pile of, er...malarkey.
I'm guessing these are the kind of guys you know in college who took the easy A classes and got their BA in Communications or some such, and don't have strong political ideas. But they're willing to act like they do if it pays the rent.
Sometimes these people have a moral awakening later in life. Lee Atwater did after he learned he was dying of cancer, and ran around apologizing to the folks he'd screwed over.
Remember the wheeler-dealers at Enron who talked gleefully with each other about the little old ladies they were shafting--along with whole states?
Or the car salesmen who acted like sleazeballs?