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Have You Been Suckered In by FaceBook to Play Games To Support Employer and Insurance Company Reform Initiatives?

Posted Dec 09 2009 9:53am
The games involve virtual money not real money, so perhaps not illegal, but maybe more like unethical.  For your support you earn virtual money that can be cashed in somewhere along the line.  I learned a new word today, “Astroturfing” likening the grass roots campaign to be fake.image

It sounds like you play games and they get money for the insurer/employer angle of healthcare reform.  Look at all the 3rd party participants too that are rolled in here, and perhaps some are here just trying to make a buck and perhaps not fully aware of what is going on here.  The game you play today may be adding revenue in some sort to the insurers efforts it appears. 

I like the comments here at the end when the email sent here asking for information has been returned.  Somebody along the line went to some pretty lengthy research to create these algorithms for sure. 

What’s in a game on Facebook, makes you want to dig in and really take a look here so as not to allow distraction to perhaps add funding or support to areas where you may not be in harmony.  BD 

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.image

Here's how it's happening:

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.

The gamers get virtual currency three ways:

  • Winning it playing the games
  • Paying for it with real money
  • By accepting offers from third-parties -- 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. This is done through an "offers" provider -- a middleman that brings the companies like Netflix, the Facebook gamemakers, and the Facebook gamemaker's users together.

It's this third method that an anti-reform group called "Get Health Reform Right" is using to pay gamers virtual currency for their support.

What is this practice called?

Paying people to act like political supporters is called "astroturfing," because its fake grass-roots campaigning. So maybe this should be called Virtual astroturfing. Virtual-turfing? Astroturfing 2.0?

Under the "Who We Are" tab on GetHealthReformRight.org, the following organizations are listed:

The middleman facilitating this transaction in multiple Facebook games is called Gambit. Up until a few weeks ago, these games included big hits like Zynga's Mafia Wars and FarmVille. Zynga has since removed all offers from its games. On its Web site, Gambit says its clients include:

  • #1 MySpace Developer
  • 20%+ of top 10 Facebook applications
  • SmallWorlds.com
  • School Vandals
  • Foopets.com
  • 2 Top 100 websites
  • ...and over 150+ more
  • We've also contacted Get Health Care Reform using an email address listed on their Web site. We received the following message back:

    Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the recipient domain. We recommend contacting the other email provider for further information about the cause of this error. The error that the other server returned was: 553 553 sorry, that domain isn't in my list of allowed rcpthosts (#5.7.1) (state 14).

Health Insurers Caught Paying Facebook Gamers Virtual Currency To Oppose Reform Bill

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