Comment guerrilla activism

Published originally on in 2008. This article is quite dated and is now standard practice for what is today called "activist trolling."
Internet Guerrilla Activism: Using Internet Reviews and Comments to Hit Them Where It Hurts.
If you have heard the term Guerrilla Marketing then take that idea and apply it to Activism. In this world of mega corporations how does a small guy find a voice? I argue that now more than ever the little guy has tremendous opportunity. Power like he has never had. I am a technologist and I think about tech every day. The activists I know are a bit on low tech side in comparison and often don't see the Internet the way I do. So, without taking a pro or antagonistic view point of activism types lets assume these people need effective ways to fight for their causes. Let us ponder this.
What if an activist group went after their big offenders by providing counter propaganda on deemed unethical products through review sites? This doesn't mean you lie, your ideas have to be true and strong. What if these activists attacked the ideas counter to their causes in the comment sections of newspapers and magazine websites in front of the readership? Today people rely heavily on reviews from internet sites to determine what products to buy. With a few weeks of work a group could kill a unestablished publication or effect sales of a newly released product by millions of dollars. I am amazed that activist groups have not taken advantage of this new situation to its full extent. Think of the last article you read on a site like The Economist, The New York Times, or any other large audience publisher. Here you have a piece of content read by millions with an opportunity to put your ideas right under the nose of an audience who knows the issue and will listen to your idea. Amazing!
The Power of The Sound Bite
Now remember comments have to be short and sweet. You might say that no real information can be posted in a comment so what good is it? BZZZZ! wrong! The content in a top rated comment can hold more sway than the article its self. How? Consider Time, Newsweek or you name any political mainstream magazine and you will see that the sound bite rules. Check out the book Made to Stick long detailed information does not stick. Activists tend to explore the complexities of the matters they care about. They are fanatics and can tell you everything and anything about their issue. Information overload makes the ideas run through one ear and out the other of their audience. The natural tendency of the comments frankness is a blessing in disguise. It forces activists to create higher impact content than the article its self. When you are browsing the web, pay attention to how much you read the comments. I'm not saying that your voice will be drowned out by a myriad of random blathering from other posters. But if it is good and valid it may be voted to the top. What is important here is that it's an unprecedented opportunity. Think of it years ago, putting your two cents under an article in the New York Times. Unfathomable and preposterous! So why is this not a huge phenomenon? My guess is that activists who write articles and books are largely driven by a mix of altruism and ego. This form of guerilla activism would require deemphasizing the importance of being recognized for ones good works. If you're fighting for a cause and are not making much money what drives you and what feeds that drive? What is the force behind the most prolific pro bono activists? The two major forces that come to mind would be seeing concrete progress as a result of your work and/or recognition. Neither of which is highly visible when you engage your opponent outside the system. Guerilla tactics have allowed peasants to keep the CIA out of parts of South America, likewise in the mid 1700s these tactics brought America freedom from Britain and on and on and on. Fighting "dirty", aka outside of the system has been and is a powerful force. In the future as these ideas become popularized only time will tell if such tactics will bring about balance or chaos.

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