#1 By: Cory Doctorow, July 30th, 2013 14:42
#2 By: Philip_Barrett, July 30th, 2013 15:03
#3 By: hamish strong, July 30th, 2013 16:09
A micorcosm of this occurred on wired a few weeks ago, except the shill was actually the author of the column. Unfortunately, somehow the balance of commenting allowed the author managed to make the dissenting commentors look shrill and tinfoil-y, despite their being totally correct and in the right. It's a hard fight, and I feel like strong-minded and informed commentors need to organize and find the dark, anti-science, anti-reality comment-section-corners of the world (ther'yre closer than you think) to spread level headed sunshine in.
#4 By: Joe Nolan, July 30th, 2013 16:31
A smear like this is the best press a book like this can get. Good post!
#5 By: PGT, July 30th, 2013 16:53
As I write, the Amazon site has 172 user reviews. The break down is:
5 star: 121
4 star: 9
3 star: 4
2 star: 6
1 star 32
If this is an anti-book astroturf campaign, it's a pretty feeble one.
#6 By: knoxblox, July 30th, 2013 17:05
Maybe telcoms should be forced to adopt the food truck system, so their inherent power can be devalued.
#7 By: Sean, July 30th, 2013 18:04
Methinks the word got out, and people who find such smears objectionable have just gone and done the same thing, but the other way.
#8 By: Peregrinus Phoenix, July 30th, 2013 19:28
Jebus, but those one-stars right at the start of reviewing, boy, they wrote tracts! Think anyone's gonna pay attention to that??
Remember folks, "tl;dr"
#9 By: fireshadow, July 30th, 2013 19:36
#10 By: Spocko, July 30th, 2013 19:44
I want to say how much I appreciate Boing Boing for bring this to our attention. I hope that like the book on Jesus, Zealot, that was attacked by Fox News, this story will lead to greater sales for the book. What is sad that it takes a backlash to get PR these days.
I think that a very clever person might decide to attack their own book so that they get the backlash PR and sales.
Philip_ Barrett links to the person who wrote a funny one star review. Good for them. but what would be interesting is to track down the actual lobbying firm and PR person (people) who wrote those.
You will note that they used a certain technique. This looks like standard practice. 1) Give a profession with history (background in the industry) or 2) Give a profession that has nothing to do with the industry. - e.g. Lab tech, Mom researcher, jewelry maker.
3) Then the talking points.
One of the ways that you can tell that these are fake is not just the template and talking points, but the decent english and complete sentences. Why is that? Because they still have a glimmer of self respect? "I might be a paid shill, but my work won't have any grammatical mistakes or spelling errors!"
These are the jobs available to college educated people with degrees in English (or even journalism). You are in 80k in debt with your English degree and there are no jobs? Look to the lobbying firms, they have money! You simply need to lie about who you are, and post info that supports the person who is paying you. When we talk about the power of corporations over our world this is one part of it. You aren't killing people with your views, you aren't making death goo or poisonous products so you feel okay about that vs people working for big tobacco or Monsanto. And you aren't doing back-breaking labor so you are using your brain. If you are lucky you are paid a decent wage, but do you have health benefits?
But at least you have a job, probably contract work. What do you care about the truth? It's all buyer beware anyway. In fact you can probably breath a sigh of relief that someone pointed this out, so in a way you are actually HELPING the book sell more. At least that is what you tell yourself so you can feel better about your lying. I feel sorry for the people who are doing this work, but on the other hand at least they Have work. When the economy has no real jobs the jobs that are available become more and more obnoxious and the ability to lock people in because of health care is still intact. The employers WANT people locked into crappy jobs at low wages.
If they could leave because they have health care or there were better jobs, they would. As it stands now the people who are running the lobbying firm could fire all the people who did these fake reviews and replace them with the same number tomorrow for less money.
#11 By: snig, July 30th, 2013 21:53
#12 By: Cowicide, July 31st, 2013 15:08
I see your point, but the "tl;dr" could also have the impact of enabling a false consensus in the mind of the reader. The reader scrolls down and sees nothing but negativity and stops there without seeing the other posts hidden far down below it all.
Astroturfers know what they're doing. They get paid to be "first!" and wrong... and drown out honest debate with many methods. Whether that be from setting up organized crowd-voting, sockpuppets, flooding and poisoning threads with negativity and/or spewing half-truths and lies... they do it any way they can....
They are ruining honest debate within the comment sections on Reddit as we speak. They helped to kill Digg as well.
#13 By: Peregrinus Phoenix, July 31st, 2013 17:21
Thanks - honestly, I'm aware of the activity and can sniff them out through the funny smell, but hadn't ever really looked into how they do what they do, and hadn't seen an example of the assembling en masse Eve style.
It struck me as so obvious what they do, but then I'm used to it from work!
I think I'm allowed say the word "hate" in describing them now.
#14 By: Cory Doctorow, August 4th, 2013 14:42
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