I have suspected almost from the beginning that the “birther controversy” is an engineered crisis, a political smear fueled and fanned by professionals, with an army of dupes to carry the message. We’ve seen efforts to create fake grass roots movements already and the phenomenon even has a name, “astroturfing.” Joseph Farah or WorldNetDaily probably deserves much of the credit, saying himself that “we essentially created it.”
Political misinformation campaigns and dirty tricks go back to the founding of our country; however, there is a basic sea change with sophisticated computer software and the Internet. The automation of dirty tricks is a matter of great concern to me.
The latest technique that has surfaced is “persona management,” software that can maintain multiple online identities (complete with IP addresses, email addresses and accounts on social networks), undetectable by sophisticated analysis, allowing a single software operator to appear as many people in online forums. A few agents can look for all intents and purposes like a movement. Today, this type of sophisticated manipulation is in the domain of large corporations, but perhaps it is being used by political operatives as well.
The Daily KOS has written about this, and I highly recommend their article, UPDATED: the HB Gary Email That Should Concern Us All.
Thanks to Sef for the tip.