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Forbes magazine tells companies to "dig up dirt" on bloggers

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Forbes has a cover story this week on the "Attack of the Bloggers," and it is probably the worst article ever, in terms of getting the story wrong and hyperbole. (You have to subscribe to their site for free to read the article - it's really not worth it.)

Some of my favorite quotes:

The blog mob loves to spout off about First Amendment freedom, except when it seeks to deprive foes of the same.
Send those bloggers to Gitmo, Batman!
Web logs are the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective.
Gee, FOX News, much?
"Bloggers are more of a threat than people realize, and they are only going to get more toxic. This is the new reality," says Peter Blackshaw, chief marketing officer at Intelliseek, a Cincinnati firm that sifts through millions of blogs to provide watch-your-back service to 75 clients, including Procter & Gamble and Ford.
Did you get that? They guy they quote is a guy who sells his services monitoring blogs. Great unbiased source.

Then the article calls bloggers "online haters."

Oh, what's this? One line out of four pages that actually praises blog: "Attack blogs are but a sliver of the rapidly expanding blogosphere."

Uh oh, even AMERICAblog is an evil attack blog, look out!
Even mighty Microsoft, for all its billions, dares not defy the blogosphere. In April gay bloggers attacked Microsoft over its failure to support a gay-rights bill in Washington State (the company is based near Seattle). "Dear Microsoft, You messed with the wrong faggots," wrote John Aravosis, publisher of AmericaBlog, which threatened to oppose Microsoft's plans for a big campus expansion unless the company caved in. Microsoft reversed itself two weeks later, saying it supports gay-rights legislation after all. It says pressure from its own employees, not from bloggers, caused the change of heart.
Then we have another personal attack on bloggers:
But if blogging is journalism, then some of its practitioners seem to have learned the trade from Jayson Blair. Many repeat things without bothering to check on whether they are true, a penchant political operatives have been quick to exploit.
If Forbes is journalism... oh never mind. And this:
And though they have First Amendment protection and posture as patriotic muckrakers in the solemn pursuit of truth, the blog mob isn't democratic at all. They are inclined to crush dissent with the "delete" key.
But even the Constitution doesn't give a citizen the right to unjustly call his neighbor a child molester. Google and the like argue they bear no more responsibility for content than a phone company does for slander over its wires. But Google's blog business looks less like a phone company and more like a mix of reality TV and an online magazine. Bloggers provide the fare, and Google maintains it for them free of charge, sometimes selling ads.
You mean you CAN'T cry fire in a crowded movie house?! Man, I'm learning new things from this article with each paragraph.

And finally, if that weren't enough, Forbes provides a "Fighting Back" special section that tells companies who are criticized by blogs how to fight back. Among Forbes' suggestions, these are my favorites:
BASH BACK. If you get attacked, dig up dirt on your assailant and feed it to sympathetic bloggers. Discredit him.
Yes, that actually came from Forbes. That has to be the most idiotic suggestion I have ever heard. Can you imagine if Microsoft had decided to start digging up dirt on me? Oh imagine the fun we'd have had then. (To Microsoft's credit, it did not.)

Then another great suggestion from Forbes:
ATTACK THE HOST. Find some copyrighted text that a blogger has lifted from your Web site and threaten to sue his Internet service provider under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. That may prompt the ISP to shut him down. Or threaten to drag the host into a defamation suit against the blogger. The host isn't liable but may skip the hassle and cut off the blogger's access anyway. Also: Subpoena the host company, demanding the blogger's name or Internet address.
Gee, so file fallacious nuisance lawsuits. Nice.

The sad part is that there are real people from real businesses reading this crap and thinking that now they understand blogs, and worse yet, now they have the weapons to fight back. Just very sad.

Oops, I'd better stop criticizing Forbes or they're going to "dig up dirt" on me.

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