How Insurers Trick Facebook Users into Opposing Heath Care Reform

AHIP and its cohorts in the insurance industry have found another outlet for their astroturfing efforts, by bribing game players on Facebook.

Health insurance industry trade groups opposed to President Obama's health care reform bill are paying Facebook users fake money -- called "virtual currency" -- to send letters to Congress protesting the bill....

Facebook users play a social game, like "FarmVille" or "Friends For Sale." They get addicted to it. Eager to accelerate their progress inside the game, the gamers buy "virtual goods" such as a machine gun for "Mafia Wars." But these gamers don't buy these virtual goods with real money. They use virtual currency.

One of the ways you can get virtual currency is thorugh third-party offers, "usually companies like online movie rentals service Netflix -- who agree to give the gamer virtual currency so long as that gamer agrees to try a product or service." The astroturf group Get Health Reform Right, which includes AHIP, BCBS, and a number of other trade groups, is one of these third parties, offering virtual currency for anyone who will take a survey. That survey, "upon completion, automatically sends the following email to their Congressional Rep:

I am concerned a new government plan could cause me to lose the employer coverage I have today. More government bureaucracy will only create more problems, not solve the ones we have.

I write this as I'm watching Sen. Bob Bennett stand up on the Senate floor waving a stack of printed e-mails he's received from his constituents, who are "concerned a new government plan could cause me to lose the employer coverage I have today," and are telling him "more government bureaucracy will only create more problems, not solve the ones we have."

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.