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06.20.09

More Microsoft AstroTurfing (aka ‘Technical Evangelism’) in Twitter

Posted in Deception, FUD, Marketing, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 10:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Mind Control: To control mental output you have to control mental input. Take control of the channels by which developers receive information, then they can only think about the things you tell them. Thus, you control mindshare!”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Crazy face

Summary: Kirk Evans is given as an example of Microsoft guerrilla marketing in Twitter

“Microsoft stalkers,” called them our source, whose account was addressed by a Microsoft “Technical Evangelist”. That’s exactly the type of people whom James Plamondon was training in order to promote Microsoft very aggressively, to this very date.

Let’s step back just a bit and see the example we have at hand. Our source writes:

Having read Microsoft’s IE8: Get The Facts website I posted on our Twitter channel that I’d seen it and thought is was priceless FUD.

Within minutes I got a Microsoft employee following us on Twitter and requesting that Sirius e-mail him to discuss “discuss IE8 opptys” (whatever that means).

See http://twitter.com/kaevans

The MS person responsible is Kirk Evans, an architecture evangelist based in Texas. Note the wallpaper on his Twitter channel is a pile of horse shit.

I’m intrigued to say the least. What’s the horse shit all about? Why should an architecture evangelist care about us pointing out what 90% of the tech industry already knows? The question is, is he approaching every person who criticises this new IE: Get The Facts website?

His Twitter channel includes gems such as:

“Laughing at the slander against #IE8 and the #GetTheFacts site http://tinyurl.com/mj38ly all bile, no substance. Truth hurts.”

This is full on, aggressive technology evangelism/indoctrination where Microsoft ‘evangelists’ are employed to use Twitter et al to silence critics.

Whilst I’m quite keen to reply to him (just for the fun of it) I’m a little concerned that my ‘card will be marked’.

Microsoft does not deny using Twitter to do its PR, marketing, AstroTurfing, evangelism or whatever they wish to call it (many euphemisms exist and Orwellian language is a spinner’s best friend). We wrote about this type of activity from Microsoft at Twitter in:

Based on experience, those who routinely write about Microsoft products (i.e. mention the company’s name or product names) tend to sooner or later be followed or pinged somehow. Microsoft wants these people on its side. One of our readers, Goblin, has experimented to show this empirically. Some of the potential Microsoft bots/AstroTurfers appear to be mass-twitting the same promotional or provocative messages. They defame Microsoft’s competition and promote Microsoft for the most part.

This account is a good example, but shortly after I had complained about it for abuse (identical, abrasive messages sent to many strangers separately) it started saying “This person has protected their updates.”

Dodgy.

“Microsoft is connected to partners via Twitter and it uses PR agencies to do much/all this work.”As examples in the posts above show, I have had what seems like Microsoft bots following me (to be fair, other companies use similar tactics of re-Twitting messages about their products). The same goes for Microsoft managers like Oliver Bell, who apparently wants to keep an eye on what I write about OOXML, which is his area. He also speaks about Boycott Novell in person.

Microsoft is connected to partners via Twitter and it uses PR agencies to do much/all this work. That distances the dirty tactics from the company this way, leaving itself less sensitive to scrutiny.

Microsoft’s PR department (Waggener Edstrom) has already developed new tools to spy on Twits — to then respond to them appropriately. It’s not just a Twitter thing, but this in general is how Microsoft manages to identify damaging posts/articles and intercept them quickly, before people notice. A recent example would be a negative Surface review that they had removed very quickly by phoning the blogger.

Microsoft has always done such things (The Inquirer in particular dares to blow the whistle on censorship attempts and bribes), but with Twitter it is a lot more visible for people to see because the equivalent of E-mail is made public. The anti-ODF campaign from Microsoft is a good example where Twits said a mouthful about what the company has been doing. See the most recent examples in:

If people wish to see how aggressively –and that’s putting it gently — Microsoft competes, Twitter may be an entertaining read. With the intrusion of marketing scum like Pay2Tweet, the death of the platform’s inherent trust may be imminent. Twitter already declines in terms of traffic, like all other Web sites which get hijacked by marketing agents who seize an opportunity.

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7 Comments

  1. David Gerard said,

    June 20, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Gravatar

    Hasn’t approached me or anyone else I got it from or who retweeted me. Mind you, we did post it as Microsoft comedy. Along with the one where IE8 trashes boot.ini.

    Roy Bixler Reply:

    Speaking of IE8 fun, here’s a nice spoof:

    Windows Internet Explorer 8; Get the Facts STRAIGHT
    http://kilianvalkhof.com/ie8fun/

  2. Yuhong Bao said,

    June 20, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Gravatar

    BTW, this is IMO a good time to discuss this from :
    “[J]ust about every PR firm offers to help “manage the perception of your company in online communities” these days. What do you think that means? Astroturfing Slashdot, Youtube, etc.”
    That shows a fundamental flaw in PR. It is that perception can be manipulated independently of the truth.

  3. Chips B Malroy said,

    June 21, 2009 at 1:31 am

    Gravatar

    Yuhong Bao said:
    “Just about every PR firm offers to help “manage the perception of your company in online communities” these days”
    ——————————————————————————————————–
    Now while there could be a lot of truth or wisdom to what Yuhong has to say, I’ve yet to see a company that has employed “managed perception” to the degree that M$ has, or even anywhere close to it. The fact that the “shills” come out of the woodwork to defend IE8, is in itself a clue to the thinking of the higher ups at M$. What forum online do you not see them in?

    IE, this was the product to kill the competition, Netscape, for all time. IE, this was the product that was going let them install all sorts of multimedia extension “standards” like wma, and others. It would in time turn the internet into just another M$ software purchase. The web would run entirely on M$ patented and copyrighted software, if Gates and Ball
    mer’s dream came though. Too bad for them that Netscape’s death spawned Firefox, and good for the rest of us.

    The only people that use IE are those who do not know better, or pretend to (M$ Shills). I hope the EU does everyone a favor and makes M$ totally remove this malware target from the next version of windows.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    We have reasons to suspect that Yuhong too is among those “shills”, so he is trying to justify it. See this and this from last night.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    BTW, I am a student from Shorewood High School from Shoreline, but that IRC chat was a lot of fun for me. I learned a lot about MS shills, was able to get two people’s opinion on whether I am a shill or not, and some more. It was very interesting.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    I do agree that MS is the worst and most unethical in this area.

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