Online Astroturfing and Other Nifty Tricks from Foreign Insurers

Take a closer look at just about anything coming from the “Coalition for Competitive Insurance Rates” and the truth seems to get more out of focus. They say they want fair competition but they don’t want to pay the same taxes as their U.S. counterparts. They launch a campaign of scare tactics over capacity and pricing in the Coastal States – a market in which they have less than 2% market share. And they repeatedly conflate third party reinsurance (which adds market capacity) and related party reinsurance (which adds no market capacity) to intentionally confuse consumers and the U.S. Congress regarding the true intent of pending legislation.

The latest distortion is a YouTube video which, according to the page where it’s posted, more than 11,000 viewers have taken a look in just a few days. That’s pretty popular for a clip about a very technical public policy issue. But check out the stats from the page, pictured below. We took this screen shot before CCIR tried to cover their tracks and block this information over the weekend. CCIR paid for a service called “VideoVisitors” to artificially boost the number of viewers of their clip.


VideoVisitors is what’s known as an “astroturfing” operation. They use a programmed network that purchases blocks of viewers, people that couldn’t care less about the content — but that give the clip a false boost in its numbers.

Notice also that CCIR’s lobbyists “referred” the clip on the day it was posted. Could they be the ones who “referred” it to VideoVisitors? Incidentally, that is the same group that represented a U.S. bond insurer opposing the tax loophole on Capitol Hill while simultaneously launching PR tactics supporting the loophole for another client.

Fake numbers, tricky coalition name, sketchy arguments. What CCIR and its members demonstrate in creativity, they seem to lack in transparency.