Internet

Gadget Company Engages in Pay-for-Praise Online

"Amazon.com runs a side business called Mechanical Turk ... where people can go, register, and get paid to do little tasks that computers can't do," explained blogger and film student Arlen Parsa. While on the site, Parsa saw a request to review Belkin International's consumer electronics products.

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The Holes in Israel's Web 2.0 Propaganda

"To gain greater international support for Israel Defense Forces operations in the Gaza Strip," Israeli Foreign Minister (and candidate for Prime Minister) Tzipi Livni directed the Foreign Ministry to lead "an aggressive and diplomatic international public relations campaign." In addition to meetings with foreign officials and interviews with international media, Israeli officials are posting videos to YouTube and

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Obama's Netroots Goes to the Dogs?

Obama puppyNetroots activists who supported the Barack Obama campaign thought they were joining "a new political movement that would be mobilized for big goals -- to end poverty or fix the healthcare system, or maybe to end the U.S. reliance on foreign oil," writes Peter Wallsten.

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Fake Drug News Online, Without Risk Information

A consumer group filed a complaint against the medical device company Medtronic, because an online video promoting one of the company's products "did not make consumers aware of the risks, warnings, precautions or side effects" associated with the product. The video, which was posted to the YouTube website, was produced for Medtronic by the broadcast PR firm VNR-1 Communications.

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Hollywood Goes to War

Audie Murphy

Viral emails have emerged as a form of stealth propaganda recently, most noticeably in the recent U.S. presidential campaign, when Barack Obama was dogged with false claims that he was a Muslim, that he was refused to salute the American flag, that he was not a U.S. citizen and so forth. The Washington Post reported earlier this year that Danielle Allen, a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, attempted to trace the chain of one of those emails and found what the Washington Post called "valuable insight into the way political information circulates, mutates and sometimes devastates in the digital age." She noted that the anonymous nature of viral emails, combined with the word-of-mouth way that they spread, makes them hard to counter. "This kind of misinformation campaign short-circuits judgment," she said. "It also aggressively disregards the fundamental principle of free societies that one be able to debate one's accusers."

Does the "O" Logo Mean Openness?

A coalition of open records, good government and research groups submitted "a lengthy to-do list for President-elect Barack Obama and Congress." Their recommendations include overturning the "Ashcroft memo," which made it easier for federal agencies to refuse requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA); rescinding Executiv

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