Saturday, February 20, 2010

Transcendental Meditation Astroturf Campaigns

Readers may be aware that the Transcendental Meditation Org is being investigated for "sock puppetry" in editing Wikipedia articles on TM, the Maharishi, and related topics. (Linked article is great. Great blog!)

Wikipedia pages are edited by "volunteers" who debate additions and changes, then vote on changes to be made. Apparently Wikipedia believes that TM true believers and employees are trying to ram through changes that favor the TM Org's agenda—to sell more expensive used mantras—by packing the editorial community with TMers.

So when it comes to a vote, TM sock puppets allegedly vote unanimously for the changes they want. Until recently, this has meant that TM pages reflected the sanitized history and marketing objectives of the TM Org.

But it appears, TM's day may be at hand.

In the past, Scientology was banned from Wikipedia for this kind of "sock puppetry." Although Wikipedia investigations move at a glacial pace, a decision on whether TM is cheating—and what the consequence for them should be—may be coming soon.

Wikipedia is only one battlefront in the fight to stop TM Org spam.

As TMFB editor Mike Doughney discussed in this great post, Transcendental Meditation Marketers—remember when we called them "Initiators"?—Tom Ball and Keith DeBoer have organized "Enlightened Bloggers" to jam the comments of every article published on the Web about TM with positive talking points—and to drown out any comments they do not agree with.

On Twitter, Transcendental Meditation Marketers post quotes and ads and then busily repost each other's posts to make it look as if there is a crowd of TM true believers. Try a Twitter search on @TomMcKinleyBall, @TMadvocate, @MeditationAVL, @TMChicago, or @TMQuadCities and you'll see what I mean.

But their use of the Internet to bamboozle the public has been going on for years. Authors from deep within the TM Org have been broadcasting articles that they write to as many free publishing sites as will take them.

Then they list these articles as "sources" in further articles, posts, and tweets that tout the benefits of TM—and its superiority to other meditation techniques, such as mindfulness.

This tweet crossed my TweetDeck this morning:

@MeditationAVL Please Retweet: Major W.G. Klokow encourages South African military to adopt Transcendental Meditation for peace

Which was then dutifully reposted by Transcendental Meditation Marketer$ across the Internet.

Two seconds with the Google reveals that the article was written by a TM employee, David Leffler, director of Maharishi U's Center for Advanced Military Science, and Major W.G. Klokow, a long-time TMer from South Africa.

Using a little Google trick that Mike Doughney taught me, I searched to find how many times the first sentence of the article appears on the Web. ("The term Invincible Defence Technology (IDT) has been around for some time now." Remember to click on "repeat the search with the omitted results included.")

More than 30 times. They've published the same article over 30 times—and now feel confident in referring to it as a "source."

This kind of "publishing" "research" or "opinion" then citing your own article as a "source" for further articles is essentially a form of "astroturfing."

They're right. Transcendental Meditation is not a religion.

They're a multi-billion-dollar business with paid employees backed up by PR, Sales, Marketing, and PsyOps divisions.

Peddlling freely available "techniques" at extremely expensive prices.

Is it any surprise they use an MO perfected by politicians, lobbyists, tobacco companies, and marketing consultants like Karl Rove to spread their advertising message?


No comments:

Post a Comment