Like Amanda, I’ve noticed a certain uptick in commenters who spew talking points straight out of Wingnut Central. Some are regulars, some are one-offs, but the dynamic is the same: I’ll see an argument made here in the comments repeated somewhere else, nearly verbatim. Or vice versa.
Now, I’ve always known that the right wingers are way the hell more organized than the lefties. I’ve assumed that the talking points were coming from somewhere, LGF or Rush or somewhere, and the good little dittoheads, having received their marching orders, were spreading their wingnutty message far and wide.
I just assumed that they were doing it on an amateur basis. Turns out that they’re likely professionals:
This is a little disturbing.
Basically, Netvocates is an organization that sends people out to web logs to post propoganda in comments. They appear to be tied to conservatives and there appears to be a tie to townhall.com, the ultra-right-wing web site. Cybersoc.com spent time running down the facts on Netvocates and the man behind Netvocates.
As is This
The scariest group reading my blog may be THE RENDON GROUP. And they keep coming back, over and over again. Here’s what SourceWatch writes about this organization:”The RENDON GROUP is a secretive public relations firm that has assisted a number of U.S. military interventions in nations including Argentina, Colombia, Haiti, Iraq, Kosovo, Panama and Zimbabwe. Rendon’s activities include organizing the Iraqi National Congress, a PR front group designed to foment the overthrow of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Amanda says she noticed the phenomenon with her posts on American Apparel and Miller; she still gets comments months after those posts, all containing the same accusations that she’s anti-sex, anti-fun, humorless, the works. These are apparently the work of Netvocates, which specializes in spin control for corporations. But it’s the work of the Rendon group she finds more sinister, and I have to agree:
This company [Netvocates] appears to work predominantly for corporations that are attempting to mitigate damage by people who are criticizing their practices and marketing on the internet. But there’s also a group called the Rendon Group that is all about controlling public opinion on government actions that people are reporting on their site meters. Considering that the Rendon Group has contracts from BushCo to spread pro-war propaganda, it’s hard to imagine that they aren’t also targeting left-leaning blogs, possibly trying to circumvent productive anti-war discussion by bomb-throwing and other nonsense. Something to keep an eye out for—if you have right wing trolls that only comment on certain topics, especially if they just generate generic talking points, there’s a solid chance they are a troll-for-hire.
Dr. Peter Rost noticed an unusual level of interest in his blog from PR firms after he wrote a post about Pfizer. But when he checked his site meter to see who was visiting, he found that it wasn’t just the PR world reading his blog:
But all these PR agencies are not the only ones suddenly interested in what I blog about.
I also got several visits from the U.S DEPARTMENT OF STATE, and from ARMY INFORMATION SYSTEMS COMMAND-PENTAGON, although I guess that may have been a fluke. I mean, I am a loyal US citizen, and I am certifiably non-violent. That’s something my prior employer’s detectives confirmed when they checked if I had purchased a weapon in New Jersey or if I had a gun permit.
There’s also another, much bigger group interested in reading my blog, and this has surprised me even more. Initially I thought it was all of Pfizer’s law firms taking a look at what I’m writing, but the number of law firms reading this blog have multiplied like rabbits and I simply can’t believe they all work for Pfizer.
Now, I’m certainly willing to bet that at least some of those law firm and government hits are just blogreaders who have no connection to Pfizer but just happen to read at work, but I don’t think he’s being paranoid to wonder why the interest, and who’s watching.
- Planning: Kind of like treason by Jill July 20, 2007
- Who are the extremists? by Jill February 13, 2007
- Reading Comprehension 101 by Jill July 19, 2006
- Abstinence-Only Day on Capitol Hill by Cara March 13, 2009
- Dear Rep. Franklin: I submit my used tampon as evidence. by Jill February 25, 2011