Russia Looks to Control InternetLast week, I mentioned how Italy seemed to be looking for control over bloggers. It seems that Russia is as well, according to the Washington Post:
Allies of President Vladimir Putin are creating pro-government news and pop culture Web sites while purchasing some established online outlets known for independent journalism. They are nurturing a network of friendly bloggers ready to disseminate propaganda on command. And there is talk of creating a new Russian computer network -- one that would be separate from the Internet at large and, potentially, much easier for the authorities to control.I remember early on, people claiming that the Internet could not be controlled. But now we've seen multiple models of control: cutting off what a governement doesn't want citizens to see (China, Myanmar), registration (Italy), and using search engine optimization to bury opposition (Russia). Of all the approaches, though, Russia's is the most chilling, because it uses the very features of the Internet to turn it into a propoganda dissemination machine.
There is a growing number of companies in the US that use such techniques to promote their clients or themselves and to crowd out any opposing voices. I wonder how long it will be - assuming this isn't already established - before political parties and those in power use the same techniques to promote their views and interests and to crowd out the inconvenient gadflies.
Actually, a simple search on Google shows that it's already happening. Here's one company that offers a number of Internet consulting services to political campaigns, including online reputation management:
We can effectively displace or bury pretty much any article that's showing up in search engine results pages. We can also preemptively develop and optimize multiple pages allowing us to control the search results for a keyword, and keep any negative listings from popping right to the top.Someone pass the vodka.