Thursday, May 10, 2007


There was a great piece on astroturfing on Ars a couple of days ago. Since Ars does such a great job explaining the problem, this post is instead going to focus on what I think should be done about it.

Phony consumer-advocacy/astroturf groups should be forced, when testifying in-front of Congress or any other governmental group, to specifically state any and all ties between them and any companies involved in the testimony. Failure to do so should result in stiff fines against both the company and the astroturfing group presenting the testimony, which would provide incentives for both the group and the company sponsoring the group to be forthcoming about their relationship.

I view undisclosed astroturfing as a threat to democracy, as companies are sponsoring groups to allegedly speak on behalf of the people in-front of government officials while not actually representing the interests of the people they are "representing", despite any image to the contrary. It enables companies to unfairly tilt the democratic process in their favour, to the detriment of citizens and consumers.

As Ars points out, the media has done a pathetic and dismal job at uncovering astroturf groups. The media is supposed to serve the people....perhaps it's time they start doing so.

Note: To clarify, I am not referring to groups like SavetheInternet that openly list their sponsors.


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