Forbes Assaults Blogosphere

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In “Attack of the Blogs,” Forbes raises issues of accountability and ethics in blogs, and cites Yahoo and Google as willing accomplices to a slavering mob.

Attack of The Blogs
Forbes Turns Their Might Towards The Blogosphere

"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth even gets its boots on."
— Terry Pratchett, The Truth, also attributed to Winston Churchill.

How has the blogosphere affected your business? Is it part of your marketing strategy? Whisper to us on WebProWorld.

Have you heard of Daniel Lyons? He’s a writer for business publication Forbes, and by the time Halloween rolls around after the weekend, he’s going to be very well known within the self-contained universe of the blogosphere.

In his article, he opens by describing blogs as a “platform of an online lynch mob, spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel, and invective.” Google and Yahoo get dragged along, listed as “potent allies” to the mob.

He focuses on the business side of the issue, citing a business called Circle Group Holdings that came under attack by a pseudonymous blogger. After numerous attacks by that blogger and others, the business fell sharply in value, the blogger was unmasked as a former stockbroker who ran afoul of the SEC, and lawsuits have been filed.

The potential of blogs to create grief for businesses has been noticed throughout the business world. Competitors use them to knock down rivals, and woe unto the business that doesn’t watch its back.

“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, said in the report. His firm keeps an eye on the blogosphere for powerful firms like Ford and Proctor and Gamble.

Lyons takes particular aim at Pamela Jones, the person behind Groklaw. The article indulges in a bit of a blog-style sniping itself, deriding her blog as providing “laughably biased, pro-IBM coverage.”

He recounts the tale of former Sys-Con writer Maureen O’Gara, who tried tracking down the likely pseudonymous Jones and lost her reporting position in the blog-fueled firestorm that resulted after her story was published.

Steve Rubel posted about his interview on CNBC, where he and Lyons among others discussed blogs:

Forbes, I am very disappointed that you chose to take such an unbalanced POV when BusinessWeek and Fortune told us both sides of the story. With all respect to Lyons and the magazine’s editors, bloggers are not Corporate America’s Boogeyman.

Dan Gilmor countered parts of Lyons’ argument, that concerning the stories that cropped up about poor security in Kryptonite bike locks:

I can’t speak to several of these allegations. But of the ones I do know about…The maker of Kryptonite bike locks was selling a flagrantly defective product that could be broken by anyone armed with a Bic pen, a failing that was exposed by the online community.

BL Ochman is elegantly succinct, describing the article as a “fear-mongering, blatantly inaccurate” story. She points out the blindingly obvious:

You mean companies can’t control the message? Control was always an illusion. You mean that customers can talk to other customers publicly and be heard? My, My. What will they think of next.

Perhaps Lyons needed a little help with his heating bill, now that the temperatures have begun to drop. All he needs to do is sit close by his computer, and enjoy the warm toasty flames certain to begin burning in his inbox and blogs everywhere.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

Forbes Assaults Blogosphere
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