By Calvin Palmer
Authorities in South Korea are cracking down on bloggers who inflate the number of visitors to their Web sites to generate greater interest in their comments.
Four bloggers were indicted on Wednesday on charges of manipulating Web hits for their anti-government posts on an online forum.
The charges came weeks after police seized the home computers of the four bloggers.
It is unclear what penalty the four will face, if convicted.
Authorities say the bloggers illegally obstructed the business of Daum Communications, a South Korean Internet portal, which operated the forum. The investigation began after a tip from Daum officials.
“The four were alleged to have manipulated hits via virus programs,” Park Hyun-jung, a Daum Communications spokeswoman said of the bloggers.”If that is true, it obviously hurts our company’s credibility.”
Seoul police said yesterday click fraud could “lead to a distortion of public opinion on the Internet”.
Police said the four bloggers increased the number of hits on their posts by 110,000 to 930,000 clicks.
Because of the bogus hits, some of the posts were listed among the “best articles of the week” on various Web portals.
“I boosted hit counts in order to let many people learn of my opinions,” reporters quoted one blogger telling police.
The indictments brought barbed comments from bloggers.
Activist blogger Jin Joong-kwon observed: “The police really don’t have a lot of work to do.”
He added: “What in the world is this country coming to when it rounds up those who click a few times on their posting?”
[Based on a report by the Los Angeles Times.]