In the previous two articles we have delved deeply into the seedy underbelly of the ubiquitous prevalent and dubious practice called astroturfing in which we covered
how the worlds leading search engine and social media video network, not only engage in astroturfing but contribute to piracy and in some cases even fund terrorism as well as fuel a huge underground black market economy
Now,I would like to take another look at this modern day and quite problematic phenomenon this time focusing on the worlds leading on line retailer Amazon,the booming business of paid review and forum posting services and the upcoming legal ramifications and future legal precedence of an upcoming legal battle and a seemingly unlikely yet massively huge demographic community encompassing two generations that has not only been victimised and targeted by astroturfers but once made aware of what was happening to them they successfully stood up.fought back and one
First for the update regarding Google,Arctic Silver and their practices.
It was brought to my attention via other online publications and blogs the article was published on as well as linked to by the public to various social media pages and websites, I was sent screen grabs and links of an assortment of Amazone posts as my article graphic shows:
So lets recap a bit before moving forward:
A ) Astroturfing plain and simple IS illegal in fact the current penalty fine for Astroturfing is about $13,000 US Dollars fine per post , astroturfing often goes hand in hand with infringement and piracy yet Astroturfers are seldomly caught much less prosecuted and fined.
B ) In some cases it clearly violates antitrust and antimonopoly laws including but not limited to The Sherman Act amongst other laws.
C) Astroturfing techniques can be used and often are used to fund terrorism and or recruiting by such organizations,thus being a rather serious threat to national security. – See more at: http://www.free-press-release.com/news-corporate-astroturfing-1429298268.html#sthash.FV9tgiAm.dpuf
Remember the following :
The practice of corporate Astroturfing is a ubiquitous, misleading,dubious and at times Illegal form of corporate advertising political and social propagandizing
Definition of Propaganda:
information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view.
“he was charged with distributing enemy propaganda”
information, promotion, advertising, advertisement,publicity,
Now back to Amazon Amazon has recently had to take legal action against several service companies ( website operators) who engage in aggressive astroturfing activities and practices.
As reported by Forbes magazine:
“The suit against Jay Gentile, the operator of buyazonreviews.com, and a number of “John Does” who operate other sites including buyamazonreviews.com, bayreviews.net and buyreviewsnow.com represents the first time Amazon has gone to court over the issue”
( interesting online discussion from the forbes article)
In my opinion if the world’s biggest online retailer is having to take legal action against astroturfers should this not be an example of how ubiquitous this problem really is?
if one stops and thinks about the potential and probable “unintended” consequences
of this highly propagandized form of spam,and the fact that a manufacturer doesn’t even have to pay astroturfers in actual money but often times they are paid in “free” goods
This by the way is called payola in the music industry and is a prevalent practice complete with middlemen called “independent radio” promoters who act on behalf of record labels in the exact same way the above mentioned companies sold reviews on Amazon to various product manufacturers
once one learns how to identify astroturfing whether it’s Amazon,a yelp review for a local restaurant or an “influencer” on a forum one can quickly ascertain that there is something
downright sinister about this especially when one considers the political and societal
implications and consequences
To clarify this is in no way is directed towards Amazon’s Vine program and not to be confused with astroturfing
By way of example in the US the Affordable Care Act was sold to the American public by using aggressive astroturfing and look at the train wreck that has proven to be
I use the ACA example to shed light how even politicians ( or their PR people) blatantly and openly engage openly in astroturfing and the general public is practically oblivious to this this to me is down right and perfectly both Orwellian and Huxleyan and to me great cause of concern
Is anyone taking a stand against any of this you might ask?
The answer is yes and it’s coming from a seemingly unlikely community and demographic
that being the Gamer community Gamers are both Gen Xers and Millennials according to the US Census will overtake the “Boomers” this year I bring this up because I have spotted a correlation between astroturfing and the boomers in that the boomers seem to be the most susceptible to fall for astroturfing as they grew up on television and in a matter of speaking lack critical thinking skills that Gen Xers and Millennials simply because it was the Gen xers that embraced the internet and Millennials literally have grown up within it
Also,Gen Xers were the first to fully embrace video games and millennials grew up with them in a similar manner that boomers grew up with television
As mentioned above it’s the Gamer community that have taken a stand against astroturfing mainly because they have been the victims of astroturfing themselves
one only needs to look at the recent scandalous war known as “Gamer Gate” and follow many a comment section on a number of publications covering the story to see how they were affected and why this community is incredibly vigilant and guarded if you now go into most gaming community forums most of them will have rather stringent vetting processes and some will even ask if the applicant is connected to a manufacturer in any way
This in my humble opinion is the way forward whether it’s Yelp,Amazon,or a specialty forum, these Operators should look at the gamer community and see what they are doing right in the fight against astroturfing
Going back to my generational observations I must say that I believe the Gen Xers and Millennials to be aware of astroturfing simply because they have grown up with it,they can spotted in a “natural” way and this should give us hope for a better future
Also it is opinion that the Amazon lawsuit will not only bring very needed legal precedences but hopefully it will bring this problematic phenomena to the awareness of the masses
Whether it’s a company like Arctic Silver, a local restaurant merely trying to improve their business by using SEO techniques or political activists we would all stand to benefit as a society to better educate ourselves and learn how to identify astroturfing this will in turn make us better consumers and citizens.