Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Oh No... Here Come the Bloggers

Apparently corporate America is running scared... from bloggers:
Web logs are the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective. Their potent allies in this pursuit include Google and Yahoo.
Forbes shares with us the story of a businessman whose company suffered a drop in its stock value following its loss of an important potential contract with Nestlé... but, of course, the drop is attributed entirely to the work of one evil blogger. They also repeat this utter nonsense:
Even some bloggers see the harm they can pose. "Some people in the blogosphere are too smug about free speech. They'll say it's okay if people get slandered or if people make up fake stuff because in the end the truth wins out," says John Hinderaker, a lawyer in Minneapolis, Minn. who helps run a right-wing blog, Power Line, which hounded CNN's Jordan and CBS anchor Dan Rather. "But I don't think that excuses it."

When Hinderaker published an item saying left-wing bloggers should stop assaulting a White House reporter alleged to have worked as a gay prostitute, his blog brethren went on the assault, publishing his phone number at work and prompting a deluge of harassing phone calls and e-mails. "My secretary was crying" because callers kept swearing at her, he says. "Then we started getting calls at the house. My wife wanted to hire a bodyguard."
Who is the loser who posted Hinderaker's office number on the Internet? Who do you think?

While Forbes does an atrocious job covering the story, such that one might wonder if there is actually a story to report, I had been thinking about the effect of blogs on corporate America. If I ran any sort of company with a major public profile, I would have somebody on my public relations staff actively monitoring weblogs (and other Internet sites and forums) for posts about my company, and would be proactive about responding to any negative rumors or innuendo. Forbes makes some suggestions as to how companies should respond to negative attacks on blogs... some of which seem likely to backfire.

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