“I Don’t Know; I’ve Never Smoked Astroturf.”

February 12th, 2007at 02:21pm Posted by Eli

Not for us to worry about yet, but I’m not entirely sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing:

In the world of p.r. and marketing, “astroturfing” is not a new term. It is the practice of creating a fake grassroots movement, or buzz. Companies will hire “influencers” in specific demographics to spread the word about a product or service, hoping to give it some street cred among consumers that are specifically resistant to traditional advertising.

In the Internet age, companies hire people to either write blogs that are favorable to their products or comment favorably on blogs such as this one….

(…)

Well, Europe has had enough of the astroturfers.

As part of an overhaul of its consumer laws, the European Union will make it a crime to falsely represent oneself as a consumer on blogs or other online forums, come the beginning of next year, reports the Times of London.

This is good news for Europe, if the law can be enforced without violating online privacy. Now, if only it would catch on here.

On the one hand, I would love to see this expanded to the political sphere so that Republican, and for that matter, Democratic operatives pay a price for masquerading as Just Ordinary Citizens Voicing Their Opinions (Note: Not just on blogs). On the other hand, I’m wary of anything that could potentially be used as a club against bloggers. Would bloggers or even commenters be forced to jump through fiery hoops to “prove” that they’re not affiliated with a political campaign? Would Republican dirty tricksters begin harrassing liberal bloggers with false accusations (“Duncan Black, who hides behind the pseudonym ‘Atrios’, is secretly in the employ of Media Matters, which is merely a front for George Soros, Howard Dean, Michael Moore, and Kim Jong Il!”)?

If there were a way to structure it so that only the guilty suffered, I’d be all for it – but when was the last time that was ever true?

Entry Filed under: Politics,Republicans,Technology

No Comments yet

  • 1. Ripley  |  February 12th, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    Would Republican dirty tricksters begin harrassing liberal bloggers with false accusations (”Duncan Black, who hides behind the pseudonym ‘Atrios’, is secretly in the employ of Media Matters, which is merely a front for George Soros, Howard Dean, Michael Moore, and Kim Jong Il!”)?

    We’re already hearing that with the Spocko/KSFO ordeal (including Nancy Pelosi and Ted Kennedy, now). Evidently, my check is still in the mail.

    I agree, though – I’m not sure I’d appreciate the vetting process to prove that I’m simply a citizen. Though, I’d love to see how it shakes out for some folks on the other side of the aisle.

  • 2. Eli  |  February 12th, 2007 at 7:10 pm

    Yeah, I actually considered mentioning blogicalthought’s incoherent and delusional rantings specifically (I’d say paranoid, but that would imply that it was actually sincere), but thought better of it…

  • 3. SPIIDERWEB™  |  February 13th, 2007 at 4:20 am

    Oh man, ya gotta smoke some Astroturf I found it to be even much better than chicken feathers.

  • 4. Eli  |  February 13th, 2007 at 10:52 am

    I’m wondering if i puree it up in a blender, if it’ll taste just like Kool-Aid.


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