Friday, February 23, 2007

The blogosphere fight to maintain credibility

The Boston Globe's Alan Wirzbicki writes in the article linked above about growing concerns that political publicists will infiltrate blogs, posing as unaffiliated citizens. These fakers are called sock puppets, shills, and trolls. They have already surfaced as various marketers post to blogs, MySpace, and other Internet gathering places, pretending to be regular folks, praising a product and faking a grassroots swell of support. I was tickled to find that this sort of fake grassroots movement is called Astroturf. I was also intrigued to read that the attraction of posting to the blogosphere is that marketers and operatives can "can fly under the radar and have no fingerprints attached to them."

I think we need to be alert (though I doubt a librarian blog is going to be subverted this way), but can't help but be amused by the new language that is being coined to describe these attacks. It's similar in a way to the stupid vendor tricks we have seen popping up in our library mail again, little post-it notes and attached memos from first-name only mystery correspondence, saying, "Why don't we have this in our library?" Fake come-ons usually are recognized pretty quickly, and then back-fire on the scammers who try them out.

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