Astroturfing On Amazon: Why Telecom Lobbyists Are Planting Bad Reviews
It’s been a pretty big couple of weeks for Amazon.com. First, President Obama chose one of the company’s fulfillment centers as a backdrop for a speech on raising the minimum wage. Then, news broke that Amazon’s founder, billionaire Jeff Bezos, had purchased the venerable Washington Post. Amazon now has one hundred and twenty-six million monthly users. But they might want to start reading product reviews with a grain of salt. Cited as the largest single source of internet consumer reviews in 2010, the online giant is susceptible to a deceitful practice called astroturfing. When Susan Crawford’s book “Captive Audience” about the Telecom Industry was published in January, it attached a number of bad reviews later revealed to be fake…with a political agenda behind them. Our guest Mike Masnick weeded out these fake reviews and published an expose for Techdirt that reached the front page of Reddit. Masnick is the founder and CEO of Floor64 and editor of the Techdirt blog, we spoke with him about his findings.