Forbes_80_100tmWith this over-the-top teaser on the Nov. 14, 2005 cover of the magazine, They [My edit: A tiny number of blogs] destroy brands and wreck lives. Is there any way to fight back? the folks at Forbes have stirred up a whole lot of predictable blacklash from the blogosphere.

Yes, of course there are examples (upsetting, frightening ones) of blogs gone bad and of bad people (i.e. lowlifes) who blog. Nothing new here except the channel. Rumor and inuendo have erupted and swarmed and wreaked havoc on people’s lives since time began. [See EFF parody.]

But the number of blogs and bloggers that fit into the ugly smear category is miniscule, as the story mentions ever so discretely, about half way through:

“Attack blogs are but a sliver of the rapidly expanding blogosphere. A hundred thousand new blogs are created every day, more than new blog per second, says Technorati…”

Having worked as a reporter and editor for MSM myself I’m surprised an astute editor didn’t call out that fact to reporter Daniel Lyons and ask if perhaps the story weren’t just a teensy-weensy bit lopsided.

At any rate, the article makes a perfectly valid point – namely, that the blogosphere is an unpredictable place where memes can pick up surprising momentum and quickly enhance OR damage anyone or any brand. (Fear of blogging is quite justified. I devote a whole chapter to it in The Corporate Blogging Book.)

Surprisingly – or not so surprisingly – a number of well-known bloggers are playing right into Forbes’ hand by jumping on the story like “an online lynch mob” (All wrong! All Wrong!). When in fact the article uncovers (and I have to assume accurately describes) some pretty unnerving examples of blog smear.

Also covered is the notable fact that blog hosting services such as Google’s Blogger and SixApart’s TypePad are not liable for content they host because they’re protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. So it’s frustratingly difficult to get back at or stop those who are smearing you.

See more balanced reactions to the Forbes’ story by Jeremy Pepper, Stephen Baker and Dave Taylor.