Monday, 19 July 2010
Use of social media by farmers and others
Follow me on Twitter discussing this. It's interesting. I'll be making a fuller posting soon, when I have time, but for now, before tweeting me PLEASE READ MY ENTIRE RECENT TWITTER THREAD, before making any accusations against me that I am either against farming or against farmers using social media. Look at my posting in April on this blog for starters.
But the more I have studied # like #agchat the more I've noticed something that troubles me.
My belief is that the social media space on Twitter is being heavily used by people who are working directly or indirectly for big ag GM seed companies, and who are being paid directly or indirectly so to do (for example lobbyists, big seed employees, farmers getting good deals on seeds or indeed free seeds).
I'd encourage anyone to participate in #agchat on Twitter and follow people like @agchat.
But think about what you know about who, what they are saying and why.
I'll give one example.
Someone heavily involved is Michelle Payne Knoper, or MPK for short. Her company and website is called Cause Matters. You quickly get a feel for her 'cause' and her clients if you read her writing or follow her participation on Twitter.
Get into dialogue with people like fairfoodfight, podchef, and follownathan on their blogs or on Twitter and ask them what they think about what I am saying.
Follow my recent tweets @IanWalthew - and take a good hard look at what I actually WROTE by reading my recent thread before jumping out of your socks and firing off stuff to me on Twitter.
Follow the comments on this blog.
I believe the Internet cannot nor should not be policed by anyone and it should be open to all, including big ag. I believe in freedom of speech, I believe #agchat is a good thing, I think farmers should be using social media.
However, even though I personally prefer complete transparency, even with those offering that, it's not possible to know who's really behind anyone's participation in social media on on any issue.
But big ag interests, as big oil and other special interests have MASSIVE lobbying and PR budgets, they get social media, why it matters and why they need to be present. But not necessarily in their own name.
So I'd say this: look carefully at WHO is saying WHAT on things like Twitter and ask yourself WHY?
FURTHER TO BRANDI'S COMMENT:
Please, anyone, not Brandi in particular, before commenting on this post, read my Twitter @IanWalthew time line on this subject, and re-read this post.
I am not saying that any particular person behind Agchat are paid or sponsored by BigAg. What I am saying is that SOME participants, it seems to me likley, are being paid or sponsored by BigAg in an effort to get their talking points into the Agchat community discussion space. I don't mind one way or another if Monsanto tweet on Agchat, that's called free speech. What I object to is any BigAg company using third-parties to subtely introduce their talking points, the talking points of GMO seed companies into the debate. All I am asking for is transparency, and that users of Agchat should be aware that not EVERYONE is on it for the same reason - which is fine - but that some 'people' may be either fronts for BigAg (anyone sitting in any PR office anywhere in the world can set up any number of Twitter identities) in a manner which I find unethical OR that certain participants - who are NOT hiding their identity - are actually being paid (in kind, or with money, either to their companies, personal accounts or farms) to push BigAg talking points. Naturally they do this very subtely but it's interesting to note how often the remarks of 'individuals' seem to match exactly the current talking points, even language, of Big Ag special interests.
I am not a policeman - and there is nothing illegal going on anyway - so I won't name names.
What I would ask people to do when participating in social media forums on any issue - where special interests have a MAJOR agenda to push - to be alert to how large corporations work.
If anyone doubts their honesty, I'd suggest following Wall Street or the oil industry, or the healthcare industry, to cite just three recent examples.