PR Watch: Spinning the Web
: "Some PR firms have also planted ringers in online chat rooms--paid consultants who defend their clients while concealing their financial ties to the company being discussed. 'A small industry is emerging among consultants who specialize in spinning online discussions to favor the positions of companies and interest groups,' the New York Times reported
in October 1999. Audrie Krause, for example, works as a consultant for AT&T but has represented herself online as a 'consumer advocate' during discussions of broadband Internet access, a subject in which AT&T has a vested interest."
I think identity literacy
and skepticism without disclosure are going to be important as PR firms use the Web more and more in an attempt to manage perception about issues and companies. The balance between privacy and disclosure is difficult, and hopefully online community developers can find ways to make it easier.
Anyway, the article quoted above shows how PR firms view the Web; both as a threat and an opportunity.