Sock puppets to be banned by EU?

Interesting snippet via Slash Dot, which is kind of the flip side of last week’s judgement against a too harsh a review. The EU is planning a directive that will clamp down on Sock Puppet bloggers and websites promoting favourable reviews of their own political parties products. So relax guys it doesn’t apply to politics, yet. But it does hint at the corrosive character of multiple sockpuppetry.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • The Dubliner is rife with software developers giving glowing reviews of their own products under fake user names in the try-before-buy section. They’re not that hard to spot. You click on the username and it only has one review posted; or, it has more than one, but it another product from the same company or damning reviews of a competing product. I imagine the only effect this legislation will have is that it will force the fakes to become more sophisticated at concealment or it will create a market for ‘paid’ reviewers to fill the void. That said, I confess to reviewing a book that I was one of the contributors to on, along with two of the other contributors. Naturally, I’ve no intention of naming it.

    If not confined to selling products, it should also be extended to include partisans posturing as impartial journalists within the media. I’d like to see media forced to declare their vested interests and biases. In Blogland, I can think of a prominent Blog with SDLP affiliations that proffers its articles as being from an unaffiliated nationalist perspective, when in reality it is no more than a pro-SDLP and anti-PSF propaganda. Oh, fun times…

  • joeCanuck

    I have no problem with the directive.

    A fraud by any other name….

  • The Dubliner

    The dictate makes it illegal to “falsely represent oneself as a consumer”. The aim is to discourage those who recommend their own products or services from doing so without declaring that their recommendation is not impartial. Logically, however, you can extend it by its principle to include anyone who benefits from a recommendation without declaring their vested interest. So, if you, for example, intend to vote for a political party because that party will cut your taxes, and you encourage another to vote for that party without stating your vested interest, then you are, by the applicable principle, a ‘fraud.’ Luckily, law has nothing to do with either logic or ethics.