Health care insurance companies have been caught with their hand in the cookie jar, sending virtual cash to gamers on Facebook. Known as ‘astroturfing,’ which means that it is a fake grass roots campaign by the insurance groups, here is how the scheme works:
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.
Instead of asking the gamers to try a product the way Netflix would, “Get Health Reform Right” requires gamers to take a survey, which, 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.”
This is a great way to get your cause noticed. Hopefully the people in Congress won’t fall for these fake emails of support and the lies they contain. It would now appear that social networking sites will be the target of any group that wants to advance their cause.
What do you think?