In his new book, “Murdoch’s World,” David Folkenflik reveals Fox News’ practice of using paid commenters with fake social media accounts, to deceive the online community. Folkenflik says members of Fox’s online PR staff created between twenty and a hundred fake profiles on social media accounts each. The accounts are used by PR staff in order to push the station’s extreme right-wing agenda.
Does this really come as a surprise?
Does this really come as a surprise? As a freelance writer I have encountered hundreds of help wanted postings for fake right-wing bloggers, paid commenters and bogus survey takers. Most of the positions pay between five and ten cents a post. The “paid commenters” ads usually appear on international freelancing sites, meaning you do not have to live in the United States to help push the tea party agenda here.
The right-wing generally recruits their fake bloggers and paid commenters from outside of the US.
If you thought the tea party social media trolls just had bad English and grammar skills back when they first came on the scene, you were wrong. In order to avoid being caught, the right wing generally recruits their fake bloggers and paid commenters from outside of the US. In 2011, a help wanted posting appeared on Craigslist in Toronto. In an effort to elevate the reading and speaking skills of its online propaganda machine, the right-wing made the mistake of trying to recruit new shills just a little too close to home. That help wanted posting got the attention of several independent journalists, both in Canada and the U.S.
In ‘Murdoch’s World,’ Folkenflik confirms what many social media users have known for a long time. Many right-wing commenters are using fake profiles and they are getting paid for spewing their filth around the web. Folkenflik reveals that these paid commenters use a wide range of deceptive tactics to hide their true identities. Using wireless broadband connections so that the comments cannot be traced back to their source, is just one of the many tactics employed.
The former president of Advantage Consultants, Doug Guetzloe is a tea party/right-wing radio host.
It’s tempting to think that Fox is the only source of right-wing internet trolls. That’s certainly not the case, however. There are a large number of companies that hire bogus bloggers and paid commenters. Take for example Advantage Consultants, a company that went out of business after being exposed as a source of bogus right-wing talking points, which were being spread around the web. The former president of Advantage Consultants, Doug Guetzloe is a tea party/right-wing radio host. Guetzloe is also the founder of a group called “Ax the Tax,” that pushes the tea party agenda in Florida.
Gawker reports that its site is one of many that has been targeted by Fox’s paid commenters
In his book, Folkenflik makes it clear that Fox’s paid commenters do not just confine themselves to posting on Fox’s own blogs or web-sites. They routinely scan the internet for any news that is deemed in need of “fair and balanced” right wing agenda spreading. They respond to normal people in the comments sections of any number of web-sites, often with aggressive and insulting attacks. Gawker reports that its site is one of many that has been targeted by Fox’s paid commenters, otherwise known as social media trolls. According to Gawker, Folkenflik said that when he was at Fox “even blogs with minor followings were reviewed to ensure no claim went unchecked.”
Paid commenters use vicious attacks against anyone who posts an opposing opinion.
The point of these fake commenters is not just to push a specific agenda. It’s also to deceive the unsuspecting public about the actual amount of support that exists for that agenda. Paid commenters use vicious attacks against anyone who posts an opposing opinion. Eventually the attacks have the effect of driving people with opposite views away from the targeted sites. This allows them to dominate the web with their fake profiles, while at the same time discouraging real people from participating in the discussion.
The right-wing agenda being pushed by these paid commenters, hired by Fox and other sources, doesn’t just include tax breaks for the rich and the myth of corporate person-hood. It includes racism, sexism, homophobia, hatred of the poor and much more. To see some of the comments and views presented by Fox’s commenters, you can visit this web-site, which is entirely devoted to highlighting the worst of the worst comments which have been published on Fox’s site.