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Lying for Dollars

9:00 AM -- About a year-and-a-half ago, before I joined the distinguished Unstrung editorial staff, I was approached by a marketing firm here in Boulder. They had a client that made beer, or volleyballs, or uranium centrifuges, or something like that, and they wanted to know if I'd be willing to post some blogs about the product and also monitor the blogosphere to see what people were saying about it.

It took me about five minutes to figure out that they wanted me to be an online poseur, spreading disguised marketing messages and collecting clandestine market research. In a rare moment of clarity, I said: "No thanks."

Well, the market has quickly laughed off my notions of journalistic integrity. If you're a blogger, you can now get paid to say nice things about advertisers' products. The going rate for selling your credibility starts at two bucks per post. Offering this lucre is PayPerPost, an Orlando-based company that has just received $3 million in venture funding.

More depressing than the fact that this kind of phony shilling is going on is the fact that respected VC firms, including Draper Fisher Jurvetson, are supporting it. Are there not enough innovative, above-board startups out there for Silicon Valley financiers to throw their spare millions at?

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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