It’s always interesting watching the comments on the Balanced Copyright Facebook group. Like Trained seals the members spew forth ‘Good news’ and ‘Finally they are taking action’ for every ‘Pro-IP’ action reported, and his ‘How terrible’ and ‘No wonder Canada is a pariah’ for every post saying negative things about Canada.
Curiously none of them appear to have ever done any research at all on the subject, and when pressed for details, they get upset.
That is, of the few that actually seem to be human. When Anonymous raided HBGary, some of the emails that they released talked about ‘Persona Management Software‘, and based on an evaluation of the posts in the Balanced Copyright group, I’m beginning to wonder if most of the ‘people’ who are responding aren’t really bots.
For example most posts made by the Group itself are liked by a lot of people. Liking something on Facebook requires just clicking on a button. It would be fairly simple to get a bot to do that, and to get the bot to vary the number of likes, so that it doesn’t look too suspicious.
There are also a lot of weird comments, where it looks like the commenter hasn’t read the thread at all. Admittedly busy people often don’t bother to read an entire thread. But when comment 10 appears to apply comment 2, and ignores comments 5, 6, and 8, all of which commented on the same angle to the original post, you have to start wondering.
When you look at the number of people who are commenting, and making sense (based on the original post and the earlier comments in the thread) there can’t be more than 4 or 5 real people who are actually taking part.
Having only 4 or 5 people taking part in a policy discussion isn’t odd. It’s much the norm, even for the most important policies. Most people just don’t have the time, or the energy to take part in all of the things that they’d like to, after working a full day, and fighting traffic on their way to and from work.
Still, if this is so important that 1356 people ‘like’ the Balanced Copyright group, you would think that there would be more action, especially in a group that is politically important (we know that both the Ministry of Industry and the Ministry of Canadian Heritage are monitoring the Facebook Group). Instead less than 0.45% of the people who like the group are active, and that includes me, who disagrees with most of what the group stands for. I also provide nearly 25% of the comments (something that should surprise no one – everyone knows that I have a big mouth).
Of those who are posting, all are employed by companies that are members of The Canadian Recording Industry Association. While these people definitely have a valid interest in copyright, it appears that they are attempting to hide their actual interest, by claiming that all of their actions are for the benefit of the artists.
The problem is that they work for corporations. Corporations exist for one purpose, to make money. The sole responsibility of a corporation is to the shareholders, to bring them the greatest return possible.
The new business models that are allowing artists to deal directly with the public are a threat to those corporations. The recent attempts to change copyright law, such as the Canadian Bill C-32, the American Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement appear aimed more at stopping artists from using alternate business models, then actually helping artists make a better return for their investment.
So it would make sense that Persona Management Software could be used in the Balanced Copyright for Canada Facebook Group. And based on my own observations I strongly suspect that it may be in use.
Can I prove it? No. Not yet. But I’m working on it.
Wednesday March 2, 2011