Facebook Astroturfing

16:06 Thu 10 Dec 2009
[, , ]

Naturally, as soon as it became popular to use Facebook to promote political causes, it became attractive to distort the practice. The ease of online ”participation”—clicking a button or, at most, filling out a form—makes it rather difficult to judge just how committed to their causes participants are.

Furthermore, if it’s easy to click, then it’s also easy to persuade people to click, which is not always a good thing.

Money is always a good incentive, and if your cause isn’t that popular but you have money, well, why not turn that money into something that looks quite like popularity? That’s what astroturfing is all about, and now the legions of obsessed “casual gamers” on Facebook are being recruited: according to this article, opponents of pending health insurance legislation are paying Facebook gamers in virtual currency to “take a survey” that when completed sends a canned message to their Congressperson.

It so happens that this story involves a cause that would be supported by a “right-wing” crowd. The method, not the cause, is what I’m criticizing, but then again, translating money into popularity is almost always going to be more of a “right-wing” thing.

Leave a Reply