Revealing fake bloggers . . . do we care?

By now it’s pretty old news that “Gay Girl in Damascus” was not.  It’s possible that old-fashioned journalism might have spotted the ruse, but maybe not.  In advertising, it’s becoming more common to blog up products and campaigns via lifestyle messaging.  It’s one thing when our industry opens talks about a campaign, but another when it’s launched sub-rosa.

I was reading an article about how software could have revealed fake blogger (see below), but that made me wonder – should I care?  Our industry is subject to truth in advertising laws and regulations and more often than not, a competitive product will do the work for you (think DirecTV vs. Dish), but in the blogging world, it seems like anything goes.

I’m not sure where I’m going to land on this subject just yet.  I’d like to hear your thoughts and ideas on the subject.  I’ll give a few thought topics – discuss.

Taking the “guerilla blogging is perfectly OK” side:

(1)  If I don’t put a link to the blog as part of my campaign, then it’s not my fault you fell for it.  You were out searching for something – somehow came across the blog – read it – believed it (whatever), so it’s on you.

(2) Um, yeah – probably shouldn’t believe everything you read on the Internet.

(3) Trust, but verify.  So if the blog did emotionally move you – then do a little more checking to see if it’s real.  If you are a major media outlet, then you may want to actually run validation software against the blog (again, see below – I’ll get there).

(4) Actually – less a point, more a question – does this even work?  Has anybody tried it and measured the results?  It’s very Orwellian to think that agencies are trying to influence the mood of the crowd to create decisions (which is also very V for Vendetta).

OK, other side:

(A) It falls under truth in advertising campaigns – don’t do it (Sony Pictures anyone?)

(B) A better way to push it is to let staffers blog about their efforts to build the campaign – then it’s real and may achieve same results

(C) What’s a blog / blogging is so 2009 / nobody reads blogs anyway.

(D) I can’t claim success, so does this style of blogging even count as part of a campaign?

I will read comments and, presuming anybody even bothers commenting, update thoughts in the future.

Here’s the article from Paul Marks in New Scientist:

Software that guesses a writer’s gender could have prevented the world being duped into believing a blog that opposed the Syrian government and was striking out for gay rights was written by a young lesbian living in the country.  It turned out the author of the blog, “Gay Girl in Damascus”, was a man – something the online gender checker would have picked up on. When New Scientist fed the text of the last blog post into the software, it said that the author was 63.2 per cent likely to be male.

Developed by Na Cheng and colleagues at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, the ever-improving software could soon be revealing the gender of online writers – whether they are blogging, emailing, writing on Facebook or tweeting. The team say the software could help protect children from grooming by predators who conceal their gender online.  The fake blog highlights the problem of people masking their identity online. The truth only emerged when the blogger disappeared, supposedly snatched by militiamen.

Read the full article online at New Scientist.

# # #

bloomfield knoble creates marketing plans, strategy, creative design, collateral, Power Point presentations, email templates, videos, audio, music videos, television commercials, letterhead, identity, gift cards, SWOT analyses, brochures, letter templates, software applications, web applications, multimedia productions, Flash content, streaming videos, logo designs, widgets, technical consulting.