Every month more evidence piles up, suggesting that online comment threads and forums are being hijacked by people who aren’t what they seem.
The anonymity of the web gives companies and governments golden opportunities to run astroturf operations: fake grassroots campaigns that create the impression that large numbers of people are demanding or opposing particular policies. This deception is most likely to occur where the interests of companies or governments come into conflict with the interests of the public. For example, there’s a long history of tobacco companies creating astroturf groups to fight attempts to regulate them.
After I wrote about online astroturfing in December, I was contacted by a whistleblower. He was part of a commercial team employed to infest internet forums and comment threads on behalf of corporate clients, promoting their causes and arguing with anyone who opposed them.
Like the other members of the team, he posed as a disinterested member of the public. Or, to be more accurate, as a crowd of disinterested members of the public: he used 70 personas, both to avoid detection and to create the impression there was widespread support for his pro-corporate arguments. I’ll reveal more about what he told me when I’ve finished the investigation I’m working on.
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George Monbiot, millenarian prophecy and his desire to see western society back into an “energy dark age”
One of the reasons that I abandoned the left’s politics is its inability to see the obvious and its wanton ability to to be duped by its ideologues. One such issue has to be climate change and the extent to which humanity’s footsteps on the planet will impact on the environment. One article that I read a few days ago in the Guardian has been republished in the
Green Left Daily , sorry I meant the AGE, and its a call for the subversion of democracy to the to the needs of Gaia from that high priest of the Green faith George Monbiot:
Of course what all of these minions of the watermelon left ignore is the complete equation, namely the human impact on the environment is a function of not only the things that humans do, but also the number of us that do it. So while the likes of George may whine about the industrial economy they also bemoan the loss of life from pestilence, famine and war. But here in lays the real problem when it comes to human impact on the planet. As a species we have become very adept at circumventing all of the checks upon our population and we are now reaping what this compassion for all has sown. Add to this the persistence of the cultural imperatives to have many children (especially in the third world) and it becomes clear that George is letting his leftist politics and hatred of the “elite” cloud his reason.
There are two ways to control an ever expanding population, either limit the number of children that are made to that which will replace numbers with out increasing our population or we stop making extraordinary efforts to constrain the four horsemen of death that have for so long controlled human numbers. This is of course an anathema to the left who think that every death in a struggle for resources or territory is an unmitigated disaster and requires sackcloth, ashes and the blaming of western culture. Dare I suggest its not the successful western cultures that are the problem for the planet because almost all of those have well and truly taken to heart limiting the number of children we make to replacement levels, its the countries of the third world who have unsustainable birth rates which combined with the compassionate “aid” from the industrialised first world have seen rapid declines in childhood mortality and subsequent population increases.
If our George really believes his own apocalyptic doom-saying then why does he not even consider the issue of population? It seems to me that he is so in love with his own millenarian prophecy and his desire to see western society back into a new “energy dark age” that he is not seeing the real big picture at all .
- Biodiversity offsetting will unleash a new spirit of destruction on the land | George Monbiot (guardian.co.uk)
- Break the grip of corporate power to secure our future | George Monbiot (guardian.co.uk)
- Guardian’s George Monbiot Apologises To Lord McAlpine (order-order.com)
- Lord McAlpine: Guardian will not pay George Monbiot’s legal costs (telegraph.co.uk)
- Is the Birth Rate Properly a Political Question? (theatlantic.com)
- George Monbiot, millenarian prophecy and his desire to see western society back into an “energy dark age” (iainhall.wordpress.com)
- Can’t Lord McAlpine just forgive George Monbiot? (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
- Can We Create a New Generation of Environmental Defenders? (phippsscienceeducation.org)
I must say that I just about cackled my self silly when I read dear old George Monbiot’s latest post at the Guardian. In essence his whole post was complaining that big business is using sophisticated technology to have its positions put forward on internet forums as if those opinions were from “real” people/ He seemed to be suggesting that up until these corporate agents entered the picture that the net was such a model of personal integrity and that all of the commemorators on blogs and forums were all what they claimed to be and that they were all examples of what people actually think about the issues.
A real person using the internet. Unfortunately we can no longer assume what we are reading is written by one of these creatures. Photograph: Jeff Blackler/Rex Features
Wake up George!!! The minions of the left have been doing precisely what you complain about on a less formal basis for all of the time that I have been playing on the Internet. I heard a rather interesting observation the other morning on the ABC ‘s Radio national and in essence it said that rather than being better users of the internet the youngest generation are actually far less discerning than old codgers like yours truly because they are not as sceptical about things they see on the web, the result is that they tend to be more often caught by scammers and websites designed to con them or feed them false information.
Everyone should be sceptical about anything at all that they find on the web quite simply because anyone can create a page or two claiming anything they please. Heck you could even pretend to be a “family” lobby group with wide spread support and a broad focus and if your website has the right look and you are a little economical with the truth no one will realise that you are actually a fag hag almost exclusively promoting Gay marriage on the site.
On the Internet it takes time to build up your gravitas and a readership just as it always has in any other form of the media. The youngest generation need a very serious re-education about the veracity of what they see on the net and a lesson or two about just who they can trust. That is one of the reasons the Sandpit exists.