With the news that a pro-Clinton SuperPAC has invested millions in paying for online shills to go around infiltrating anti-Clinton conversations and attempt to misinform and sway opinions anonymously, a discussion on Reddit prompted individuals who have been a part of these shilling campaigns to speak out, sharing how effective and calculated this sort of online infiltration is.
One such user posted anonymously, but then shortly after deleted their comment, no doubt in fear that his/her former employer would see and punish the person for their valuable insight.
The Reddit user said that they were a former employee of a PR firm who defended fracking online. What follows is an eye-opening description of what the fracking industry is willing to do to remove scrutiny and criticism of the industry. Without doubt, this is done by the oil and gas industry nationwide as well as the drug and tobacco industry and any other industry which receives a healthy amount of scrutiny online.
“Former PR worker here, 99% of our job is to convince people that something that is fucking them over is actually good for them. The whole concept of ‘shills’ has somehow became a conspiracy theory when in reality it’s just PR workers who are paid by a company to defend their product/service. My last job was defending fracking.
Anytime a post containing keywords was submitted to a popular website we where notified and it was our job to just list off talking points and debate the most popular comments. Fracking was an easy one to defend because you could paint people as anti-science if they where against it. The science behind fracking is sound and if done properly is safe, so you just focus on this point. You willfully ignore the fact that fracking is done by people who almost never do it properly and are always looking to cut corners. Your talking points usually contain branching arguments if people try to debate back. For example my next point would be to bring up that these companies are regulated so they couldn’t cut corners or they would be fined, all the while knowing that these agencies are either underfunded or have been captured by the very industry they are trying to regulate.
The final talking point, if someone called you out on all your counterpoints, was to simply try to paint them as a wackjob. Suggest they are crazy for thinking agencies who are suppose to protect them have been bought and paid for. Bring up lizard people to muddy the waters. A lot of people will quickly distance themselves from something if it is accused of being a conspiracy theory, and a lot of them are stupid enough that you can convince them that believing businesses conspiring to break the law to gain profit is literally the same as believing in aliens and bigfoot.
Edit: Just to clarify I am not an expert in the field of fracking, I am just a PR worker who worked on a fracking campaign and used it as an example. I got into a few heated debates about fracking in replies to this comment and some things I said might be wrong because as I said I am not an expert. I don’t want this to take away from the actual point of this comment which is to make people aware of PR workers and how they try to sway online discussions.”
Reading this is terrifying, especially if you are the sort of person who spends a great deal of time online. The internet is full of terrible information, but being acutely aware that hired employees are online for the sole reason of misleading the public on a major issue like fracking should make one question anyone they speak with online.
That the Clinton campaign has hired employees to engage in similar practices that the oil and gas industry hire workers to do is worrying. Any political campaign should know that online discussion and debate is an extremely important part of the modern day political process. It is popular to talk online about an individual you disagree with being a paid “shill,” but now every online Clinton supporter will be identified as a paid corporate shill whether they are or not. It stinks of a certain level of dishonesty that many have come to expect from the Clinton campaign.