Wednesday, September 27, 2006
AT&T Astroturf Blog Masquerades in Lehigh Valley Cyberspace
Media Action Lehigh Valley, has scheduled its inaugural meeting this Thursday at 7:30 P.M. in the Silkwerks Building (930 N. 4th St.) in downtown Allentown. On Monday, I told you about this new group and its fight to maintain net neutrality, a free and open Internet. It is the rule that has governed access to the net since its inception.
Telecom giants like AT&T, in their neverending quest for the Almighty Dollar, don't like net neutrality. They want to be able to control which sites go fast and which don't. Bloggers like me, unable to pay future tolls, will be a thing of the past. Search engines like Google, which has been likened to the Library of Alexandria, will slow to a crawl in favor of competing search engines. YouTube will go down the tunes.
Monday's post provoked a lengthy response from HandsOff43, which essentially ranted about Google and claimed to be interested in "educating" poor shleps like us about the disadvantages of net neutrality.
I never heard from HandsOff43 before and decided to check out this blogger. Guess what? It's a frickin' front for AT&T! That's right, bippy. HandsOff43, aka Hands Off the Internet, is an astroturf group. It masquerades as a grassroots group but is actually a front for the Telecom industry. Primary funding source? AT&T. I guess buying Congress isn't enough. Paid shills must pollute the blogosphere as well. HandsOff43 has done so at with 512 posts at different sites.
Jeff Pooley, Professor of media and communication at Muhlenberg College and publisher of Old Fairgrounds and Lehigh Valley Media, correctly calls this disinformation from the propaganda artists at Hands Off a "sleazy attempt to ape the legitimacy of real citizen action." It also damages meaningful debate. Any comment opposing net neutrality will now be viewed with suspicion regardless of its actual merits. That's ultimately bad for all of us.
Hands Off retorted, in a Freudian slip, that it "has nothing to hide except the facts."
With that, I agree.
I wonder if I can pay my phone bill at their site.
This sordid little attempt to manipulate Lehigh Valley debate is showcased in Lehigh Valley Media, our new local media monitor. I'm sorry I put them to work so soon.
HandsOff, you're free to comment on my blog anytime you want, but I charge a toll to telecom giants. From now on, every time you visit my blog, I expect to see my phone bill reduced fifty cents. This should be no problem since that is what you want to do to sites throughout the net. If you can't honor my request, keep your hands off!