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08.05.09

Fake Reporters, Microsoft, Apple, and the FTC

Posted in Apple, Marketing, Microsoft at 10:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bulls eye

Summary: Analysis of a disturbing trend in Web coverage and necessary response through regulatory agencies

TECHDIRT has this interesting new post where the seriousness of hired ‘reporters’ is downplayed. It says:

A year ago, I was fascinated by the news that Miller Brewing Company had hired its own journalist to create a news blog all about beer. It wasn’t just about Miller, but about the overall beer/brewing market.

Microsoft seems to have loads of those “pretend” journalists, who are just de facto PR people to Steve Ballmer (Ina Fried for instance). The bias is always very telling. Microsoft, for example, hired Peter Galli, a man who had used his position as a journalist to promote Microsoft and ridicule Microsoft’s competitors.

GreyGeek wondered if there was “Astroturfing in the talkbacks” on the original report about Apple's exploding iPod:

There appears to be an individual making comments and adding “facts” not in the article in defense of Apple. The posts have all the earmarks of Apple Astroturfing.

Has Apple adopted Microsoft’s techniques, demonstrated by MS “Technical Evangelists”?

This is already disputed by some, but given the knowledge that Apple openly talks about “Evangelism” (Guy Kawasaki wrote about that extensively), this is not out of the question.

One of our readers, Goblin, helped the exposition of one Microsoft AstroTurfer, who pales in comparsion to full-time Microsoft AstroTurfers that led us to complaining to the FTC (they returned a letter to say that they will review the issue given similar complaints). There are more reports on their way to the FTC. Goblin seems to be on the case:

As for using things later, that’s a little coincidental as you are kindly contributing to some points I am making in a very detailed report to the FTC.

More here (a sequel to the above):

I will end on this note, its often asked of me if I believe that there are those posting on the net paid for by certain proprietary companies. My answer is, it doesn’t matter, misleading information is misleading whatever the intention/source. There are people such as the FTC who are looking into this, all I can do is document and evidence my experiences and let them draw their own conclusions. I am coming to the end of a lengthy report on this whole subject. Once it has been submitted I will be releasing it here for everyone else to read.

[...]

Now that the FTC is getting involved in the issue of “gifting” and firms are suffering loss of profit due to the recession it will be interesting to see how many rave reviews of proprietary work when the “Genie” stops granting wishes.

Its a shame though, with people acting in this way, its now cast doubt (IMO) on anyone with positive comments on proprietary software.

Looking at Microsoft for a moment in respect of Twitter, check out how many official twitter accounts it has. Is this what Twitter was intended for?

Goblin later added that he has a new Twitter follower called “Microsoftfix”. As we mentioned before, particularly in posts about Microsoft’s Twitter antics [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], it is not unusual for Microsoft to follow or befriend its opposers on this social network. It’s probably part of the marketing strategy.

“I’m a huge fan of guerrilla marketing.”

Joe Wilcox, Microsoft Watch ‘Reporter’

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A Single Comment

  1. David Gerard said,

    August 5, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Gravatar

    The problem for journalism is that (a) even good journalists have little job security in the media (b) PR pays much, much better. I know journalists (mainstream newspaper journalists) who have faced this dilemma and done PR until they can’t stand it any more.

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