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.
Can it be true? Are legitimate businesses being squeezed by a few angry bloggers on a mission of hurt?
Kurt Opsahl put some of this in perspective in a spot-on parody (found via Copyfight):
Printing presses are the prized platform of a public lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective. Their potent allies in this pursuit include Ben Franklin and John Hancock.
Take the tea tax. Revenue was coming, providing much needed funding to help with his Majesty’s benevolent aims in the colonies.
Then the pamphleteers attacked. A supposed crusading journalist launched a broadsheet long on invective and wobbly on facts, posting articles with his printing press calling your King “deceitful,”“unethical,”“incredibly stupid” and “a pathological liar” who had misled the colonists. The author claimed to be “Silence Dogood,” a middle-aged widow who started a one-woman “watchdog” pamphlet, to expose alleged regal excess.
Face it: blogs are disruptive technologies. Television and radio have been largely one-way, asymmetric mediums that benefit those of means — the same established business interests that Forbes serves. Does that put some perspective on it?