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June 14, 2006

Astro Trolls

So, now companies with slimy business practices and/or scummy politicians and lobbyists that are exposed in blogs are hiring trolls to comment and try to screw up the discourse: One more reason to be wary of feeding trolls.

One company that does this for businesses is called Netvocates Read their company website - and feel sick. From their main page:

"NetVocates provides its clients with expertise in blog monitoring and advocacy. Our trained staff of experts utilizes a unique combination of proprietary technology and human analysis to deliver a focused stream of timely, actionable intelligence to our clients. And a nationwide field force of active bloggers advance clients’ objectives and achieve measurable results."
In other words, their sockpuppet trolls target blogs and spread your propaganda for a fee, and they do this for a living. Astroturfing and then some.

Another company that does this for political types (both Republicans and Democrats!) is The Rendon Group. Their slick website uses ambiguous corporatespeak to describe their search and destroy propaganda services. Their "approach", when deconstructed, says that they find, analyze, and then inject propaganda into media communications to produce measurable results. Professional propagandists, who make fly-by-night advertising agencies look positively ethical. Take a gander at their partial client list, and shudder.

Now, this is not to say that companies and politicians don't have the right and need to present their perpective. That's what press releases, interviews, advertisements and such are for. However, paying for anonymous insertion of blatant propaganda into supposed individual communications is another thing. Yes, free speech includes the right to anonymity and pseudonymity. But that is for individuals - not organizations or companies. If you're paid to say something, then you damn well better say who's paying you, even if you don't use your real name. It's called ethics, and includes transparency in business and politics.

So now bloggers are up against not only derision and marginalization from "regular" journalists, but they are being targetted by professional propagandists hired by unscrupulous companies and politicians too lazy or too corrupt to clean up their act. Great.

Posted by ljl at June 14, 2006 1:5 AM