The health insurance industry is using Facebook for the equivalent of buying votes for cash at the polling booth. Business Insider tells us: 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.
However, real money changes hands: From the lobbyists to Facebook and/or the game developer. This is not the same as letting a commercial advertiser offer game credits on, say, Farmville. The insurance industry is buying political influence through the conduit of Facebook. They’re aiming at folks so engrossed in "Mafia Wars" that they’ll send the message without even reading it, to get the bonus. The member of Congress who gets the anti-reform letter doesn’t know that.
The lobbyists don’t care if it’s a 10-year-old sending the lobbying message. All they want is volume.
Click on the image at right to see the insurers’ instructions for sending the lobbying letter. Three or four clicks and your booty is on the way to Facebook! And Congress is getting a warped idea of how people actually feel about reforming health care.
Here’s more from the Business Insider Story:
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."
And here are the companies behind this completely fake "Get Health Reform Right":
* Association of Health Insurance Advisors
* America’s Health Insurance Plans
* American Benefits Council
* BlueCross BlueShield Association
* Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers
* Healthcare Leadership Council
* Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers
* National Association of Health Underwriters
* National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors
* National Retail Association