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Attack of the Blogs! (schon wieder)

Der Journalist Daniel Lyons schreibt im Forbes-Artikel Attack of the Blogs (diese Print-Version ist offenbar ohne Registrierung zugänglich):

Blogs started a few years ago as a simple way for people to keep online diaries. Suddenly they are the ultimate vehicle for brand-bashing, personal attacks, political extremism and smear campaigns. It’s not easy to fight back: Often a bashing victim can’t even figure out who his attacker is. No target is too mighty, or too obscure, for this new and virulent strain of oratory. Microsoft has been hammered by bloggers; so have CBS, CNN and ABC News, two research boutiques that criticized IBM’s Notes software, the maker of Kryptonite bike locks, a Virginia congressman outed as a homosexual and dozens of other victims–even a right-wing blogger who dared defend a blog-mob scapegoat.

“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. “The potential for brand damage is really high,”says Frank Shaw, executive vice president at Microsoft’s main public relations firm, Waggener Edstrom. “There is bad information out there in the blog space, and you have only hours to get ahead of it and cut it off, especially if it’s juicy.”

Some companies now use blogs as a weapon, unleashing swarms of critics on their rivals. “I’d say 50% to 60% of attacks are sponsored by competitors,” says Bruce Fischman, a lawyer in Miami for targets of online abuse. He says he represents a high-tech firm thrashed by blogs that were secretly funded by a rival; the parties are in talks to settle out of court.

Tja. Schlimm, schlimm: Wir sind das Böse schlechthin!

OK, jetzt mal im Ernst. Natürlich ist es traurig, wenn Blogs für miese Schmierkampagnen missbraucht werden; das tut dem Image der Blogosphäre gar nicht gut. Aber man sollte das auch realistisch betrachten. Der Journalist erwartet offenbar, dass ausgerechnet Blogs eine heile Welt sind, in der sich nur liebe Menschen immer nette Dinge sagen. Das ist natürlich Quatsch. Blogs sind nichts weiter als ein Kommunikationswerkzeug. Wie Brieftauben, Telefone, Zeitungen, E-Mails, Briefpost auch. Die Brieftaube hat keinen Einfluss darauf, ob der Benutzer damit eine Liebes- oder einen Erpresserbotschaft übermittelt. Und das ist gut so.


Nachtrag: Bedenklich ist der Sidebar zum Artikel, mit Tipps wie sich eine Firma vor Diffamierungen schützen bzw. sich zur Wehr setzen kann. Da werd nebst einigen durchaus vertretbaren Mitteln doch tatsächlich auch einige höchst fragwürdige Massnahmen vorgeschlagen.

Fighting Back

You Can’t stop bloggers from launching an allout attack on you or your business if that’s what they decide to do–but you can defend yourself. Here’s how.

MONITOR THE BLOGOSPHERE. Put your own people on this or hire a watchdog (Cymfony, Intelliseek or Biz360, among others). Spot blog smears early, before they can spread, and stamp them out by publishing the truth.

START YOUR OWN BLOG. Hire a blogger to do a company blog or encourage your employees to write their own, adding your voice to the mix.

BUILD A BLOG SWARM. Reach out to key bloggers and get them on your side. Lavish them with attention. Or cash.Earlier this year Marqui, a tiny Portland, Ore. software shop, began paying 21 bloggers $800 per month to post items about Marqui, while requiring them to disclose the payments. Marqui’s listings soared on Google from 2,000 to 250,000 results. Never mind that one blogger took the money and bashed a Marqui marketing strategy anyway.

BASH BACK. If you get attacked, dig up dirt on your assailant and feed it to sympathetic bloggers. Discredit him.

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.

SUE THE BLOGGER. If all else fails, you can sue your attacker for defamation, at the risk of getting mocked. You will have to chase him for years to collect damages. Settle for a court order forcing him to take down his material.