The Dark and Immoral Side of Content Marketing

I love Content Marketing – but there is a dark side to it. A very dark side. I realized this back in 2013 when I came back from a funeral – and had the unpleasant experience to read about Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy.

How exactly are Angelina Jolie’s breasts related to content marketing? Well the connection is more visible than you might have imagined.

We content marketers claim that we are the new and better form of marketing – supporting this bold claim with statements like “We make the partner of your future clients.” We like to believe that by giving out vital information for free we make our clients influencers in their target audience. That we are creating a bond between our clients and their clients.

Sometimes this is true.

And sometimes we are just the lying bastards – like any other marketer. But we are better at hiding the truth behind words.

Ladies and Gentleman, We Have a Celebrity Providing the Backstory

To give you a better understanding of what I mean I need to tell you a story.

A while ago Angelina Jolie made the headlines by having her breasts removed and replaced by artificial breasts for fear of cancer. Whatever you may think about it – doing this publicly probably wasn’t easy. And she probably did what she thought was right.

Right to educate people world wide about the possibilities that today exist to prevent certain forms of cancer – especially when your genes determine you are in a group that has a very high risk of getting cancer. She wrote a public piece in the New York Times on the reasons that led to this step.

What does this have to do with content marketing? Until this point: Not much. But let’s continue

This Is Also Personal

Shortly after she published her story I came back from a funeral – someone I knew had just died of cancer.

(At this point of the story I had not even made the connection of the two events – whatever happens to a celebrity is usually not very close to my personal life. But that fact was about to change.)

I got into the office, sat down and opened my laptop. As cliché as this may sound, the first thing I did was open Facebook. And there the connection between my personal experience, content marketing and Angelina’s breasts looked at me with a laugh that even Heath Ledger as the Joker couldn’t have pulled off.

The wife of a close friend of mine had shared an article that was titled: “How Angelina Jolie Was Duped into Self-Mutilation by Cancer She Never Had”

(I won’t link to this article – you can Google it if you really want to. It is still online in various places although the original publisher has taken it down.)

Now I’m not a doctor but neither was the author of this piece of… I won’t go into what is right or wrong in cancer treatment. But what the article propagated was shameless – cancer is not a thing to take lightly and not all forms of cancer can be eradicated by “choice of the right foods and supplements”. Which was what this article propagated.

Back to the story. I clicked on the link – scanned through the article, and went back to Facebook. Though the thing was depressing I wasn’t in the mood for long discussions. I wrote “Please don’t promote this bullshit.”

And left Facebook for the day. Ok, I should have seen the following coming – but hey, somebody had to say it.

What Happened Next…

Next day on Facebook there was some discussion on the friend’s wife’s post. And a comment by her, addressing me: “What bullshit do you mean, Jonathan? ”

I really should have stopped there, I know. But who else?

So I started typing – and while I was typing I was also looking into the post, the author and the website. Oh lord… (I’m an atheist.)

This site was promoting in a pseudo-scientific way all the natural healing methods it was also promoting in the article. The site looked professional – had a really scientific feel to it and wasn’t even selling anything directly. The main idea of the site seemed to be to promote certain “Researchers” names.

Now – don’t get me wrong – I’m not against natural healing, natural medicine or whatever. But when you claim to be able to heal cancer you better have something real.

This simply wasn’t – but what it was was excellent content marketing.

  • The main argument was that cancer inducing genes can be suppressed by the right choice of food and food supplements. And healthy living in general.
  • Angelina Jolie had been tricked by the cancer industry into believing that she would die of cancer if she wouldn’t have her breasts removed.
  • The cancer industry was always promoting the most expensive treatment and not what is best for the patient.

Sounds like a conspiracy theory? Well, it is. But it’s clever – it gives a lot of room for half-truths and tongue-in-cheek arguments and what is most important: It allows the author to completely circumvent the most important tool of medical research: Statistics.

Now, I studied math back in a different life, and I have to admit that I don’t believe in most statistics because of that. But in medicine valid research has to depend on statistics – there simply is no other way. So, this article simply discredited all statistical research (it is done by the cancer industry so it is part of the conspiracy) and replaced it by tongue-in-cheek arguments like:

If you were scared of brain cancer, would you cut your head off?

(Of course you would not cut your head off, you would die then. But breasts are not vital organs – not that this makes it an easy process for the involved women, but it’s what the original author forgot to mention.)

It also used some existing problems as arguments for its purpose: For instance the too expensive health care sector. Depending on the country you live in that can be a very real problem for you, especially when you have an illness like cancer.

It wasn’t just this article – the whole site was stuffed with this kind of thing.

This wasn’t just excellent content marketing. It was near perfection.

And it’s probably killing people, right now.

The Dark Side of Content Marketing

There is a dark side of content marketing: We claim to be giving out relevant information. But some people give out targeted misinformation.I am pretty sure this site wasn’t set up by a single person – it was part of a wider content marketing strategy for the natural healing methods, food supplements and healthy living industries. The target audience was also pretty clear:

– less educated
– not earning a lot of money
– primarily women
– scared of becoming ill

The ideal market for content marketing.

Why? The competition isn’t selling to the end customer directly but to experts (namely doctors and hospitals) and therefore not competing with different information. The group of distributors and experts (doctors and hospitals) educate at the specific time when someone becomes ill and for some widely known risk factors like smoking, but not for specific risk groups like people who are at a high risk because of carrying a specific gene.

(Which in turn shows how necessary Angelina Jolie’s publication was.)

That makes the target audience an ideal target: They are scared – but unable to find better info than the info you give them.

And when you are willing to go via dead bodies, there is a lot of money to be made. The trick that is being pulled off there is a bit as if the tobacco industry sold cigarettes as a natural way to heal cancer.

That is the dark side of content marketing – we claim that we make our clients the partners of their future clients by giving out relevant information. Often that is true.

But often we don’t give out relevant info: We give out targeted misinformation that we have carefully crafted into convincing pieces of content for a specific target audience. The web allows us to publish almost infinite content and in many niches we are still without competition. The lack of competition means we can get targeted SEO traffic easily and the target audience takes care of social media traffic.

We can spread a lot of bad information for our lucky customers – and when the time comes that the competition wakes up a lot of people have died.

And that is all because we are… well, we are simply good with words.

In Germany there is currently a political movement called PEGIDA (Patriotische Europäer Gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes – Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Western World). As you might guess – this one is a movement that is primarily against Islam. But they work with the same strategies as noted above.

And sadly politicians haven’t got a lot to counter this movement – because they are not used to market this way. Sure, they will hold speeches in public places, but they don’t have a long term information distribution strategy. Which in turn leads to more and more people falling for the misinformation. PEGIDA organized demonstrations with 20,000 people already (don’t get me wrong – this is not and never will be a representation of what the general public in Germany wants).

The dark side of content marketing is that when we choose to work in industries and fields that are morally questionable we can do a lot of damage. When we are willing to spread misinformation and go via dead bodies we can do a lot more damage.

If you want to find out how to use content to build your social audience and get traffic from it without getting on the dark side of content marketing, check out our ebook “The Social Traffic Code!”

But isn’t that true of any form of marketing?

The question is legitimate: Marketing is done and always will be done for about anything.

But – I’m talking about a highly effective marketing strategy in sectors where there is only you marketing anything because the distribution method of the competition goes via a different sales funnel.

And I’m also talking about targeted misinformation of the target audience that might in turn lead to the misinformed customer’s death. That was always possible but current content marketing strategy actually makes it very easy – especially when you compete against the public sector.

Sad End to a Sad Story?

Let me finish my story from above. The Facebook thing ended with me writing a very long answer to the original post. Admittedly it wasn’t my best piece, but it got the main points across.

I got a few likes by people – even a direct message thanking me for speaking out.

A few days later I noticed that the Facebook stream of my friend’s wife had turned quiet for me: She had revoked our friendship on Facebook.

I have not talked to her or seen her since. While not canceling our friendship the “official” way like she did – I also haven’t talked to my friend either.

I guess believing cleverly spun articles and spreading them is in some way favorable to listening to the truth.

That is the power of the dark side: It’s not just killing people – it’s also killing friendships when you speak out loud.

Note to self: This article connects content marketing with cancer, politics, emotional personal experiences and Angelina Jolie’s breasts. If this doesn’t go viral, I don’t know what will.

This article was proofread and edited by myself with the help of Grammarly. If you are blogging in English and cannot afford a professional editor, Try Grammarly Now! It rocks.

  • http://www.theskilledscribe.com Nicole Henderson

    Jonathan, what a great piece you have here! I’m a freelance writer and have seen the dark-seeded underbelly of content as well. When I first started writing, I wrote for content brokerage sites. I was horrified by the types of material people wanted. It was illuminating to me as a consumer and on a personal level. How many times had I been duped by a well-written article or product review?

    Early on, I drew the line in the sand for myself regarding what I would and would not write, but others have no such line. As a result, people could be dying for it. Never underestimate the power of the pen (or keyboard). I think what happened in Paris taught us that much.

    Another thing that alarms me is how many people will read just the headline of a piece, like the one you pointed out here saying Angelina had been duped. I can’t count how many times I have seen commenters go off on tirades based on headlines alone. It’s scary, alarming, and I’m glad you are pointing out the dark side to content writing. Those headlines are meant to do that (although they still hope to draw you in). The more controversy they generate, the more shares.

    I think writers have a responsibility not just to their wallet, but to their conscience. While I know there will always be someone around who will write the BS that is full of misleading propaganda, I know that I won’t.

    And in a similar vein, I too have lost Facebook friends because I have pointed out shared content that was full of misleading, official-looking information. I feel that it’s my responsibility to use what I know (and I’m a former English teacher too by the way) to educate others.

    In short, thank you for sharing this. You are not alone in recognizing the kind of crap information the Internet allows to run rampant through its pages nor are you alone in trying to show people the trickery used to generate traffic.

    “With great power comes great responsibility.” We may not be superheroes, but we sure wield a lot of power online.

    • TheSocialMarketers

      Hello Nicole, welcome and thank you for the Spiderman quote.

      I’m glad I’m not alone in this – though I think the problem runs much deeper. Simply by not taking part we will not be solving the problem. We have to face that on the web, there is a war between information, and misinformation.

      This is true for any industry, every area of life – because for every piece of information there is someone around that profits from the opposite opinion/misinformation. This is nothing new, but the speed of information spreading has changed – and many industries are still struggling to keep up. Or simply still don’t see the need.

      That gives the negative side a headstart – and I fear that in many cases is already done and won’t be easily repaired.

      – Jonathan

      • http://www.theskilledscribe.com Nicole Henderson

        You’re welcome and you’re totally right. The misinformation is running wild out there. There are no checks and balances. There is no one fact checking anything, and the lies are spreading like wildfire. And in the face of this, I take the position that many others have taken in the face of adversity. I control my own actions and I point out the fallacies when I see them. It’s all I can do and so I will do it. Because action, even in the smallest measure, is far better than inaction. Even if I just make my friends, family, and colleagues smarter, I’ll be happy. And I’m pretty sure you feel the same since you published this:)

    • http://www.bvsiness.com/ Bvsiness

      Thanks for your article bringing to light once more how self serving words spun together to sell stuff can be. Not to diminish in any way honest well meaning writing to sell a product. The validity of the headline itself in this case is understood as are the good intentions of the writer. Lots of words aren’t worth the effort and time needed in order to comprehend let alone verify, if possible – even with our friendly search engine. Sometimes story connections can end up being a math thing.

    • Jacqueline Lee

      Nicole–so happy you escaped the quicksand of the content farm. So many writers’ dreams go there to die, and I’m glad yours didn’t. Best of luck to you.

  • Eva A. May

    This was a great post about the dark side of marketing, and the very creative people involved. I can’t really understand what the end-game is for many of these types of emails, but fortunately, I usually can figure out which ones not to click for further info! I wanted to comment on the loss of your friend’s wife. I have/had a few friends who frequently send me, and (at least!) 50 or so other friends, all the crazy warnings about products that would kill you, “news” that was unbelievable, etc. I started copying the main few sentences and searching for them online, and would usually get snopes.com back as a result. I would go to snopes and copy the article and the explanation of why the article was false (if it was), and send it back to my friend, sometimes copying all the other friends she to whom she had sent the article. And had the same experience with some of my “friends” – they didn’t want to believe that the stories were totally false, even when faced with a great explanation from snopes. Their usual resolution was to just stop sending me these types of emails, even though they continued forwarding them to many other people. Guess there are many people who will read and pass on misinformation, especially when it’s nicely packaged – who cares about the truth? And the dark side can frequently sound so much more interesting! Thanks for letting me share!

    • TheSocialMarketers

      Hi Eva, and welcome!

      Thank you for your comment and support.

      You are right – the willingness to easily accept and spread misinformation, conspiracy theories and the like is part of the problem. But that part won’t be easily fixed. Conspiracy theories are probably as old as human history.

      What shocked me in this case was that this could so easily be turned into a marketing strategy – and that it can easily cost lives. I love marketing – but it can be misused. And people will fall for marketing.

      – Jonathan

    • DarrylErentzen

      Many of the people reading and passing on misinformation are acting from their own dark sides. Presenting oneself (even by proxy) as a source of expert advice can be a way of gaining power over others – posturing for status like chimps.

  • Elmarie Porthouse

    Jonathan I’m so sorry for the broken friendship as a result but I’m so glad you said it! Every now and then I anger someone by telling them what a farce those pictures of abused children and animals on Facebook is or something like this ‘natural healing’ method. As a whole content marketers are good guys but it seems like some will do anything to get ahead, even if it means they have to abuse the trust of an unsuspecting public. Thank you for turning a spotlight on this.

    • TheSocialMarketers

      Elmarie – Thank you for your comment and welcome on our blog!

      I’m not sure that you are right about content marketers being good guys on the whole – they are average. And that is ok.

      You cannot expect people not to run for an opportunity like this – someone always will. The problem in this case is the massive discrepancy between legitimate information on the web and… well, misinformation for marketing reasons.

      – Jonathan

  • Guillermo Lamphar

    Your article is wrong. I’m sorry. It is.
    This is not content marketing. Is unethical marketing which can come in many forms as I’m sure you know. That’s first.
    Second, I’m sorry to tell but your friend is lame. You share what reflects your thoughts or what you are against (for debate purposes). So your friend was “innocent” enough to believe that and to judge what Jolie did. She IS wrong for being so intolerant and paranoic and well… Uninformed. That’s why “content marketing” worked there. Isn’t really marketing’s fault if people want to stay stupid when you have a huge amount of information (even branded but confirmed information) just one click away.

    Bad marketing works (and exists) because people is too lazy to investigate. It is not marketers job to educate people, it you don’t love yourself enough to have some criteria and intelligence marketers won’t either. It is as easy as that. Oh God. People keep asking for other people to educate them when they have almost all of the information human raced has produced.

    • TheSocialMarketers

      You are right about one thing – it was unethical marketing.

      But “unethical” does not mean it is “bad” marketing – bad marketing would mean it didn’t work or was at least not effective enough, which simply wasn’t the case.

      Nor does “unethical” exclude “content marketing” – this is content marketing. It uses content to (mis-) inform. False info is content as well as anything else.

      Claiming that people are simply to lazy to investigate so it is their own fault may seem like the easy way out for us marketers but it really is not. We are talking about cancer research – and while I do have some background information on the subject (I’ve known quite a few people that had cancer and I grew up in a household with a doctor), I cannot claim for myself to be able to fully understand the information in that topic.

      Unethical content marketing based on false info exists because the correct information is neither as accessible nor as easy to understand as the misinformation.

      As an example: I studied mathematics. That means that I am able to throw around formulas that you will probably never understand, never want to understand and that, should you ever need them – you will not be able to apply. That doesn’t mean that I’m more intelligent than you – I simply spend a few years of my life studying the subject.

      That all the information you need is freely available on the web won’t help you in that case. You can look up the outcome – but when you want to understand where the formula comes from – you will be lost.

      Same goes for cancer research.

      – Jonathan

      • Guillermo Lamphar

        Yes. But if you tell me and show me that you have a mathematical formula to cure cancer I wouldn’t believe it without investigating. It is common sense. And if I don’t understand the process the outcome is everything that matters to me. I don’t need to study mathematics. We expect the world to be explained by someone else and have only easy pieces of information and the world doesn’t work that way and it shouldn’t. Everything, ABSOLUTELY everything you read online is a lie to some degree. For everything stated there is the opposite. You choose to believe whatever you want but you can’t blame marketing itself if you don’t have the intelligence or common sense the know this or to look for other information. At the end of the day it is about what you choose to believe with the facts you have, and believing something without facts is still believing. Hard data wouldn’t change your mind if you can’t type 3 words on Google to clear things up.
        I agree with most of what you are responding but not that point. It’s not about if I understand or not the information, is about how willing I am to stay misinformed. They say ignorance is bliss for a reason.

  • Tom Wright

    Just don’t get the point of this article. Marketers are human beings and human beings have been telling stories ever since they learned how to talk. Some of those stories are true, some are not, some are told for entertainment, some are told for dark purposes.

    Telling a story for marketing purposes – AKA content marketing – is nothing new. It was the same in 1950s TV ads featuring stereotypical housewives waxing lyrical about the virtues of soap powder: today all that is different is we have these superior and more flexible digital platforms as a place where we can tell our stories.

    So why the shock that some content marketing is BS? That some people tell content lies to promote product? That some people are good at it? Content marketing was never a moral force or a socially progressive movement – its just another way of selling things and some of us can’t resist the temptation to lie by omission, lie by exaggeration or just outright lie when there is money at stake.

    • http://www.loveyourniche.net LoveYourNiche

      I don’t see where you’re seeing any shock. Acknowledging a problem is very different to being surprised by it.

      He’s simply saying that maybe morality should actually be considered in marketing (something I definitely agree with, especially in the healthcare space), and that content marketers need to question their own moral superiority in the world of marketing.

      Some people DO actually see content marketing as socially progressive or a moral force,compared to traditional marketing, and the author obviously believes that it should be more than just “another way of selling things”, and that it’s a problem when those “irresistible lies” cost lives.

  • TakeActionWAHM

    Excellent points made here about the power of content marketing. What I don’t think you touched on are the number of people who WANT to be duped by this kind of marketing. Any widespread conspiracy theory works the same way – and the people who believe then want to feel smarter than the rest of us who are being “duped” by the “main stream media”. You can see the same thing with the anti-vax group. And again, people are dying.

    • http://www.loveyourniche.net LoveYourNiche

      SO true…that type of piece very much speaks to fears AND a desire to feel superior to others.

  • http://assets.vice.com/content-images/contentimage/no-slug/0bf29b365ae6a9c2416eacdcdd7e7e51.jpg D’artagnan Bingemunkle

    When one considers that our sedentary culture – now fueled by addiction to social networks more than almost anything, particularly for those poor uneducated types you mentioned – it could be argued that you, yourself, Jonathan, are also killing people by insisting that they immerse themselves in Twitter and Facebook, as it is crucial in maintaining the “health” of their business.

    The article also asks, “Why aren’t male oncologists cutting off their own testicles to avoid testicular cancer?” or words to that effect. This would have been a far more relevant example of this article’s logic than the “chopping off your head” one you gave.

    The cancer industry is a vast machine, just one cog in the even vaster pharmaceutical-industrial complex. There are those who believe that simple baking soda kills cancer, there are others who believe electromagnetic radiation from space causes it and there is no cure possible short of constructing a gigantic protective “skin” around Earth….

    Either way, I think this article constitutes free speech, and you’re patting yourself on the back for a job well done that, in the end, was just another form of marketing.

  • http://www.loveyourniche.net LoveYourNiche

    Facebook kills so many “real” life relationships, and ya know, sometimes I think it’s worth it. I’ve lost a couple for bringing research and a bit of logic to social issues, but so be it. Sometimes there are lives at stake.

    I just started as a content marketer about a year ago, specifically in healthcare, and I’ve had to turn down one client directly, and at least 4 more indirectly, because of their work in the area of natural healing. I’m all for eating right, supplements, exercise, and even some holistic treatments, but at the same time, I can’t bring myself to write for cancer treatment clinics that tout “world-renowned doctors and researchers”, with zero mention of their actual credentials or citation of their research. This stuff right here? It’s why I moved to B2B marketing.

    B2C in healthcare especially is hard, and I feel a bit conflicted. There would be competition for this type of information if traditional healthcare would get off its high, illness-based horse, and really talk to patients where they are–but I’ll admit that I’m not brave enough to throw myself into that arena yet.

    • TheSocialMarketers

      Interesting – it could be argued that in B2B there are often lives at stake as well :) But I will admit that while that is the case, B2B is often more honest than B2C marketing. The reasons for that are diverse, but probably one of the main reasons is that in B2B marketing you are often after long-term relationships.

      Anyway – thank you for all your comments, and welcome to the blog. – Jonathan

  • vampituity

    Jonathan: This is real not just in this one instance. There was a brand’s content marketing hub I found recently- I still haven’t decided myself whether to write about it. As part of their content, they’d created a downloadable children’s book (PDF) promoting their position (explanation). I was horrified. I learned about it from a progressive organization that was attacking their content (they are now being sued, no surprise).

    To touch on Nicole’s comment I see below- I myself was suspicious but instead of going to Snopes or diving deeper, just asked a bunch of colleagues about: http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/president-signs-order-making-ted-cruz-ineligible-for-obamacare

    I felt stupid but hey, yes, I don’t read the New Yorker and didn’t know about Borowitz’ (rather fun) column. We are in a realm where theater of that sort in politics is no longer impossible, sadly (regardless of who you support). One colleague replied to me that Onion-like content doesn’t below with such as well reputed brand as the New Yorker. I questioned it where others not in marketing would not.

    Thank you for sharing this piece and opening the dialogue. It needs to go further. I’d like to help and collaborate on that effort in some way.

    Rachel Medanic

  • Yo_Its_Me

    It’s so refreshing to see an article on this topic. I write original and spun content, as well, and I’ve often shied away from spinning articles with medical advice I’m not familiar with; and I question the ethics and/or intelligence of those who do so blindly.

  • http://www.aoifeocarroll.com Aoife O’Carroll

    Very clever, criticising the manipulative material used to deceive credulous and vulnerable people yet including clickbait mentioning Angelina Jolie’s breasts as a suggested tweet.

    • TheSocialMarketers

      Hi, thank you for commenting.

      I take it that you are criticizing me for using clickbait. Thing is: I don’t mind clickbait. Clickbait is a marketing tool – and marketing is what I do. Just like any other online marketer I need traffic for a living and I need traffic to reach an audience.

      There is of course a limit to what you should do. The thing with moral limitations is that everyone decides for himself what is right and what is wrong. I have not crossed my own limitations with this post – but if I offended anyone by mentioning Angelina Jolie’s Breasts in a tweet, I will have to accept that.

      I doubt that she herself would be offended though – and that is precisely the point why I decided that I am fine within my own moral boundaries.

      Sorry for the in depth morality discussion, the question came up quite offensively on Twitter before, so I thought I’d use the chance to explain myself.

      Jonathan

      • http://www.aoifeocarroll.com Aoife O’Carroll

        Hi Jonathan,
        Thank you for responding to my comment. I am not criticising you for using clickbait: I just think it brings a slight hypocritical edge to what is, in many ways, a very worthy commentary on the manipulative side of content marketing.
        Regards,
        Aoife

  • LindseyAnnison

    I have a minor issue with this article. I don´t think this is about content marketing at all. I believe it is primarily about content creation. And those are two different animals entirely. If those of us in the space cannot use the terms correctly, what chance do others looking to the “experts” to grasp the very real difference between creation and distribution?

  • http://digidezine.com Don Niam

    Excellent article and great insight to pick up on the motivation. The film industry and Actors have much influence over many. My most favorite actor could not influence me if I do not believe in what they are preaching. So many huge organizations and they mask who they are under hundreds of names, but the goal is the same. I do not follow certain actors anymore due to the groups and that is not really the word, but I will keep it light since this is your blog. Why I don’t follow their films is because I know the organizations that place them out there to promote their organization is BAD! There was another actor sometime back who did not treat his child due to the beliefs of who her followed. These people are so programmed they lose sight of everything. Just so no one here thinks I am making up stories, I owned a Private Investigation business several years ago and a deprogrammer came to me and my partner and needed to rescue a son of a family from the group. This client that told this scary story walked into our office in a half of body cast due to being run off the road by them. We thought he was paranoid, but our Attorney landlord validated everything and this person came from a wealthy family and his brother was snatched up and his mission in life was to deprogram people who were abducted and hopefully find his brother one day. I hope I did not get off topic here. But what you thought was not content marketing turns out to be very informative. Everything changes in this world, that is where growth comes from and new ideas along with pioneering different methods to achieve a positive result. Thanks for sharing Jonathan. Intelligent people tend to lose friends on FB, the ones I have dumped were annoying me anyway with useless posts and I didn’t care about what they had for lunch everyday anyways. I say goodbye you are in my way and not moving out of it fast enough.

  • Lucy Frost

    You have just described the entire strategy of Fox News, in my opinion. The only thing that counteracts misinformation is reliable information. And even then it is very difficult to do, in a quote attributed to Churchill, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” It takes sustained, consistent good info a long time to neutralize bad info. I’m sorry you lost a friendship over this. Sometimes a private message works best in those situations. it’s important to allow the other person to save face in a public forum.

  • Jacqueline Lee

    Hi Jonathan,

    Good read. If pieces like the one your thin-skinned friend shared are content marketing, then I guess it’s not such a new trend after all. People have promoted woo for centuries, but in 2015, social networks beat the hell out of passing out leaflets or going door-to-door with a bottle of hair tonic when it comes to effective, widespread distribution. Also, the democratic nature of the Web makes it easy for people to write and promote woo, and their work lives on forever. I’d like to think any reputable creator or agency would show these people the door, but there’s always someone who will cash the check and justify it by saying, “I present information, and people are free to choose for themselves.”