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03.12.09

Microsoft’s AstroTurfing, Twitter, Waggener Edstrom, and Jonathan Zuck

Posted in Europe, Marketing, Microsoft, Patents at 9:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Counting money
Shilling for Microsoft for mighty bucks

Summary: A quick look at the most recent evidence of Microsoft influencing through paid henchmen (and women)

IN OUR PAST WRITINGS ABOUT Waggener Edstrom we showed that it was nothing but a shameless spinner for Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. In order to prevent being seen as “biased”, Microsoft passes its AstroTurfing, marketing, journalist-prodding efforts and reckless promotion to peripheral agencies. The company has done this for ages, even when it required some dead bodies to 'write' sympathetic letters to the government.

In our more recent posts where we mention Waggener Edstrom (e.g. [1, 2, 3]) we also show that their activities are ethically corrupt, so in a decent society there would be a ban. Exhibits from Comes vs. Microsoft show that Waggener Edstrom has been there for Microsoft since the company’s early days when criminal activity was more transparent and quite routine.

Yesterday, in a post about Microsoft Portugal, we showed what seemed like 'TwitterTurfing' from Microsoft. It was also yesterday that Mary Jo Foley reported on the activities of Waggener Edstrom inside Twitter. Have a look.

A growing number of Softies are Twittering these days, as are members of Microsoft’s primary public-relations firm, Waggener Edstrom.

Like many tech PR firms, WaggEd also monitors religiously Twitter trends involving its biggest client. On March 11, WaggEd went beyond simply monitoring tweets: It introduced a beta version of a software tool for monitoring and analyzing them.

In related news, Matt Asay has just caught up with the news about another AstroTurf vector, Association for Competitive Technology [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], subverting a European panel about free/open source software.

One such editor is Jonathan Zuck, president of the Association for Competitive Technology, a lobbying organization with strong ties to Microsoft. There is nothing wrong with Microsoft making its voice heard in the software strategy development process, as it stands to gain or lose much in the process, but it does make for some interesting political gamesmanship in the document.

While the draft doesn’t make it obvious who is saying what, there are numerous instances where editors have tried to soften the appeal of open source or downplay its significance, repeatedly trying to insist that open source not be called out as more significant than proprietary software.

Association for Competitive Technology (ACT) has former or similar identities such as ATL. Another similar pressure group of Microsoft, namely CompTIA [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], is intervening with debates on patents right now, including software patents. Digital Majority has some transcripts.

It is obvious that the astronomical cost of litigation is disastrous for many small U.S. businesses, and it requires settlement by the accused infringer. The frequent litigation surround the “patent thicket” can chill economic investment (e.g., venture capital and other R&D spending) and destroy a start-up‟s attempt to enter the market and create jobs. We invite your attention to the patent litigation statistics published by many sources, including the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.

To a company like Microsoft and those whom it pays, eternal vigilance and eternal interference is the price of an abusive dictatorship.

This is something to think about whenever asked why Free software proponents are supposedly ‘obsessed’ with Microsoft.

Microsoft et al deserve such treatment because no other company (or ecosystem) is fighting against digital freedom quite so viciously. Their best achievement would be to convince people to stop watching every move, thus leaving villains more wiggling room.

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