Saturday, April 03, 2010

My unvarnished opinion

From Thursday's For Immediate Release we learn about Unvarnished, a social media site that lets anyone say anything about anybody. Create an account, create a profile on any acquaintance, and say what you want.

Did someone create a profile about you that was derogatory? Well, just create an account and refute what was said. Persuade your friends to create accounts so that they can defend you. What a terrific business model, what a terrific way to build site traffic.

It would be nice to think that this would be a way for Dilbert, Wally, and Alice to tell the unvarnished truth about their pointy haired boss. It is just as likely as to give the pointy haired boss a chance to trash the reputations of Dilbert, Wally, and Alice so that they can't get jobs at better companies.

Let me bring my very Washington, DC perspective on this; this will quickly degenerate into a cesspool of partisan smear jobs which will go much further down the food chain than is presently the case. I mean if you can damage the careers of every precinct captain of the rival party, or at least the ward chairs, you can go a long way to destroying most of your prospective opposition candidates before they even think about running for office.

The possibilities of dirty tricks are endless. Are you a company who has been attacked in the press? Just create a profile of the reporter and allege that he is the office boor. Is your company being threatened with a product liability suit? Don't just smear the lawyer and the plaintiff, smear all the potential witnesses in the case.

Are you an oil company? Is there an assistant professor at some community college somewhere getting locals all riled up about global warming? Create a negative profile and prevent him from getting tenure.

Are you a hostile intelligence agency? Is there an engineer who is working on a breakthrough weapon that your country is not ready to counter yet? Create a smear profile on Unvarnished and see if you can get his security clearance yanked.

Did someone create a negative profile on you? Presto Vivace's advice would be to create an account and use the facts to refute the negative remarks that were made. Then ask your online friends to write something nice about you, on their blogs, relevant Ning communities, any online community that would be visible to your professional milieu and ignore Unvarnished. Don't give it more online visibility, don't build its site traffic. With any luck the site will fade away as one of those Web 2.0 projects that just did not work out.

Edit -

Todd Defren has a somewhat different perspective, but takes a very similar view of Unvarnished.

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