Kicking around the web, I found this alarming notice, that Verizon (amongst others) is starting to use the blogosphere to manipulate public opinion, and to "astroturf." Al_swearengen

Basically, in a really despicable move, Verizon started faxing a local mayor, vaguely threatening faxes, all trying to make sure that the Verizon flying monkeys get their way and get control of the local internet franchise. 

Christ! I know that the standards of what’s legal or not are pretty much getting trampled into the mud these days, and that the attitude of the current administration is that business can pretty much engage in all the nasty fuckery they feel like, as long as the checks keep coming in, but COME ON! Impersonating private citizens in order to get their grubby little mitts into the cookie jar???

Sheesh.  Gotta cool off a bit.  Here’s the nut grafs on this absolute rat bastard sham.

Verizon wanted it to appear that
there was a real grass roots effort in support of them being undertaken
by the residents of our small town; but there wasn’t. It was all made up and it backfired miserably.

Now the telcos are doing it again. Have these guys got balls or what? They
set up a phony web site, designed it to appear to be run by a grass
roots organization and started pushing a web video trying to discredit
a real grass roots campaign. (I’m not going to link to their web site)


Let me try to speak clearly to telecom management:  These ass backwards actions are exactly the reason why we don’t trust you and your future plans for the internet. Can’t you see that? Who’s running things up there? We’re not bad people trying to make life hard on you, it’s your actions that make us not trust you. Speak clearly to us, state your case, engage in rational debate and build up a relationship with your customers. Tricky astroturf actions only enforce the notion that handing the keys to the internet to you is a bad thing.

In the interview I did a month or so ago with Mack Reed, one of the subjects that we touched on (and that I wish I could devote more time to) was the way that Corporate America is waking up to the fact that the wild&wooly nature of the blogosphere means that there ain’t no sheriff in these parts.  Thus, as long as the paperwork’s clean, they can pretty much do as they like out here.

Mack predicted that companies are going to start to learn that by using the anonymity of the net, they can make what is a cynical and manipulative ad/marketing campaign look sweet&innocent.

The image that keeps flashing in my mind is of Al Swearengen of "Deadwood."  This is the kind of dirty, underhanded scam that he would truly appreciate pulling off on all us goddamn useless hoopleheads.