Crowds on Demand: Rebels with a cause – if the price is right
The somewhat dubious organisation that will provide you with protesters to passionately promote your cause
When you think of a protest, you probably think of something like the February 2003 march against the war in Iraq, which drew at least 750,000 people onto the streets of London. Maybe you think of Swampy, the reluctant face of environmental activism, who found himself a public figure when in 1996 he stationed himself in a hole in the ground to stop a motorway extension. Or maybe it's the thousands said to be descending on the village of Balcombe next week to fight fracking – so many, in fact, that the villagers are said to be dreading it.
What you probably don't think of is Crowds on Demand, a somewhat dubious organisation that will provide you with protesters to passionately promote your cause – for the right price. According to Vice magazine, Crowds on Demand charges as much as $2,000 (£1,290) to supply 20 protesters for an hour in the US. But are there any causes so evil that they wouldn't promote them? "I don't want to speculate," says CEO Adam Swart. "I don't want to speak in hypotheticals." (On the plus side, he'll also provide an entourage and a couple of paparazzi so that people think you're famous.)
Such tricks – a variety of astroturfing, that very useful term for a fake grassroots campaign – are nothing new. A German firm was providing something similar as far back as 2007 ("many may genuinely believe in the protest they are joining", the spraff chirpily explained), and, more sinisterly, the Uzbek government has been accused of hiring women as "outraged citizens" in order to undermine genuine actions against the state. Politicians do it all the time, with loyal party employees instructed to greet a prospective MP like a rockstar.
At the moment, though, it remains a fringe trick. One shudders to think of the consequences if it becomes the norm. Will fierce defenders of the bedroom tax suddenly materialise in Westminster? Will local shops be besieged by pro-supermarket zealots demanding better access to homogenous groceries? You hope not, but it's not inconceivable. Let me know if you see Swampy holding a placard demanding that the Government gives motorists a break.
Rap music mogul accused of running two men over in his truck
The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president
- 2 The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
Mia Khalifa: Pornhub star claims Drake sent her 'cringeworthy' naked photos on Instagram
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
Ball pool for adults opens in London
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for an Engineering M...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A skilled .NET developer with e...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company are cur...