Friday, February 23, 2007

Fake Bloggers: Threat or Menace?

From the Boston Globe:

With big corporations now hiring public relations firms to pay fake bloggers to plant favorable opinions of the businesses online, many political bloggers are concerned that candidates, too, will hire people to pretend to be grass-roots citizens expressing views.

"This is going to happen more and more, and blogs are going to have to be vigilant," [Erick Erickson of] said in an interview. "I expect there will be commenters jumping in and trying to build negative campaigns to cause scandal for the other side. That's my fear." ***

"Campaigns and organizations promote their candidates and efforts, obviously," Markos Moulitsas, the founder of, a prominent liberal blog, said in an e-mailed response. "If they do it openly, it's well accepted. If they use sock puppets (create aliases to hide their identities), then it's a big deal."

Sure, we're heading into a presidential campaign that is expected to cost a billion dollars ($1,000,000,000!) and these goofs are afraid of the "big deal" of "fake bloggers."

Here is a free tip to candidates tempted to pay "fake bloggers": Don't do it.

Not because it's wrong or a "big deal," don't do it because it is a huge waste of money.

By the way, I'm not a fake blogger -- I'm a fake person.


Dan L said...

Internet trolls have been cultivating forum personalities for the specific purpose of one day causing drama.

What is stopping one crazed conservative (or liberal) from putting together a well respected liberal blog while getting hand fed credible information, becoming a respected source, just to one day blow the whole thing up for irreparable political damage.

So-Called Austin Mayor said...

In answer to the "what is stopping..." portion of your question: Nothing.

But I don't see the "irreparable political damage" that could be created by either an anonymous or pseudonymous blogger.

For instance, this blog has a pretty good track record as a lefty site, but I would be very surprised if a campaign put itself in a position where I could do any damage to it, i.e. entrusted me with either secret or damaging information.

At most a blogger like me could reveal something that was best left secret, but even then the story would be that the information was revealed by a blogger who turned out to be a Benedict Arnold, i.e. the fact that the blogger lied and betrayed his or her sourced would dampen the damaging effect of the revelation.

At least, that's how I see it.



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