An under-reported story from 2010 was the apparent proliferation of paid political trolls. Some of us have suspected this was going on, but some recent leaks coming out of Right-Wing political action committees confirms that this is happening on a bigger scale than thought.
This phenomena goes back at least as far as 2002, when it was discovered that an internet lobbying outfit called the "Bivings Group" was found to have created at least two false identities, "Mary Murphy" and "Andura Smetacek", that were used to post a prodigious number of posts attacking research showing widespread contamination of corn by genetically-modified bee pollen. Bivings was working for Monsanto at the time. It was widely reported that the McCain campaign did this during the 2008 campaign, but the new paid trolling is taking on new forms and attacking more than the regular political online communities.
A very interesting film, (Astro)Turf Wars, a documentary by Taki Oldham, has a scene that was secretly videotaped during a training session organized by a right-wing libertarian outfit called "American Majority". During this session, the trainer instructed Tea Party members as follows:
âoeHereâ(TM)s what I do. I get on Amazon; I type in âoeLiberal Booksâ. I go through and I say âoeone star, one star, one starâ. The flipside is you go to a conservative/ libertarian whatever, go to their products and give them five stars. â¦ This is where your kids get information: Rotten Tomatoes, Flixster. These are places where you can rate movies. So when you type in âoeMovies on Healthcareâ, I donâ(TM)t want Michael Mooreâ(TM)s to come up, so I always give it bad ratings. I spend about 30 minutes a day, just click, click, click, click. â¦ If thereâ(TM)s a place to comment, a place to rate, a place to share information, you have to do it. Thatâ(TM)s how you control the online dialogue and give our ideas a fighting chance.â
From some of the clips I've seen, this (Astro) Turf Wars film seems like it might be interesting to anyone who has been suspicious of the seemingly organized commenting/moderating activity here on Slashdot.