The Biotechnology industry, struggling to gain acceptance for their products, has looked at social media as a wild animal they’ve been unable to tame, until now. Momsanto, a giant corporation that sells genetically engineered seeds and low-calorie sweeteners, has launched a program called “$hill Bucks.” This new social media-based incentive program, the industry believes, will allow them to regain control of public opinion, which according to online comment discussions, is entirely based on who wins comment thread arguments on the internet.
“It’s high time we started rewarding people who argue with our opposition online.” Cora Perate, Vice President of Momsanto’s New Media Programs, explained how the program works. “Our $hill Bucks social media team members monitor comments threads in prominent articles on traditional and social media sites. When they see a $hill in the comments, they debit the pseudo-currency into the $hill’s account.”
$hill Bucks are awarded according to the following scale:
- 5: First comment to appear on the article
- 10: Links to industry sites
- 20: Link to non-industry sites
- 30: Explain the science in a calm, approachable way
- 40: Explain the science while calling another author nasty names
- 50: Get accused by another commenter for being a “Shill” for industry.
- 100: Argue with this commenter and claim that you are not.
- 1,000: Convince an anti-GMO organization to publish an embarrassingly faked story.
“We’re particularly proud of that last one,” said Perate. “Our $hills created this great story about how bald eagles lost the feathers on their heads by eating our GMO cucumbers. We had a good laugh at the office as we saw bald protesters waving signs with this meme, because the cukes only work on mammals! It has allowed us to map the misinformation machine and insert embarrassing red herrings at key times to derail the activists while we push forward with our agenda for World dom-, I mean, Domino’s Pizza. Definitely Domino’s Pizza,” she said, quietly adding “Whew, that was close.”
$hill Bucks program participants, or “$hills”, must pre-register their usernames with Momsanto to receive credit for $hilling. “To accrue rewards, $hills must register no less than 5, and no more than 2,000 active pseudonyms.”
“Just kidding,” she said, “there’s no limit to how many pseudonyms you can register. The more you talk to yourself, the greater your rewards.”
$hill Bucks can be redeemed for a variety of merchandise, such as Momsanto hats, shirts, and silken handkerchiefs. At higher levels, $hills can trade for company stock, or weekend getaways to the S.S. Conspiracy Theory, a luxury cruise ship and casino that constantly circles the Caribbean, where they can drink limitless Mai Tais with CEO Huge Paycheck on Friday nights. Awardees will be flown in by helicopter, or can arrive by speedboat – also available for 1 million $hill Bucks. The cruise ship and speedboats come with high-speed satellite internet and business-class WiFi, so theoretically, successful $hills could stay there indefinitely.
$hill bucks can also be awarded by special recognition of achievement. Momsanto recently rewarded the anti-GM organization GM Wash a sizeable sum of $hill Bucks, for keeping a close eye on their share prices in social media. “GM Wash has helped our investors identify good times to buy stock by frequently raising awareness of when our stock is down,” said Perate. “We’re giving their director, Jonathan Batham, 1,500 $hill bucks!”
An anonymous investor commented “I used to follow GM Wash and buy into their anti-GM stuff. But now I’ve bought into a nice retirement portfolio that I couldn’t have afforded without them.” Batham was unable to be reached for comment by press time. An aide reported that he was last seen logging into his stock brokerage account.
The $hill Bucks program has not been universally well-received. Anti-GMO activists working for hemp-based nonprofits worry that their will get drowned out in social media spheres, where they have traditionally held an advantage in numbers. “We motivate people with fear and misinformation, but now we have no idea whether the misinformation is ours or theirs.” Rumors have spread that a competing “Organic ₵ents” incentive program will be launched, providing free soapy showers on the street with a company’s traveling suds-mobile.
Knarl D’Ches Nutwood, a prominent blogging scientist was doubtful that this new outreach program would help sway public opinion about biotechnology. “I don’t like this idea at all. Rather than have meaningful dialog about this technology, it is just going to perpetuate the status quo.” Pausing to sip a Mai Tai, he continued. “If Momsanto thinks that they can buy support with this then they’re going about this all wrong.”
Perate responded, “Knarl just lost 10,000 $hill Bucks for that. Good luck getting that speedboat now.”