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10.16.09

Microsoft Twitter Bots, FTC Blowback, and Paid-for Vista 7 Glorification

Posted in Law, Marketing, Microsoft, Vista 7, Windows at 9:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Clara the cat

Summary: Automated accounts serve a function as Windows pushers; FTC under attack from companies that produce AstroTurf contracts; Microsoft-sponsored sites and former employees engineer a fanfare for Vista 7

SOME weeks ago we produced evidence to show that Microsoft bribes people who mention Vista 7 in Twitter (and elsewhere). It seems like a violation of the new rules from the FTC, but on it carries in addition to previous examples, such as:

  1. More Microsoft AstroTurfing (aka ‘Technical Evangelism’) in Twitter
  2. User “Microsoft Incentives” Wants to be Your Friend, Too
  3. Microsoft’s Twitter AstroTurf Continues
  4. Who is Pumping MSFT and Pimping Microsoft in Twitter?
  5. Microsoft Hires Federated Media for Twitter AstroTurfing
  6. Does Microsoft Still Create Twitter Accounts for Guerilla Marketing?
  7. Microsoft’s AstroTurfing, Twitter, Waggener Edstrom, and Jonathan Zuck

Someone suspects that Microsoft operates bots in Twitter — ones whose purpose is marketing alone.

Today we are going to look at the Twitter account HashWindows who, presumably is a bot which RT’s posts containing keywords relevant to the topic it RT’s…no surprises here…Windows!

Before we look at how robotic or automated this account really is, let me just say that I have not yet established if Hashwindows is an official Microsoft account (one of many) and nobody seems to know. It lists its location as Pearl, but has no contact details or means of tracing its origins, sounds like one of the MS Faithful so far eh?

I first noticed Hashwindows a few months ago in my replies section of Twitter, I thought it was quite funny how it would RT my comments (some of which hardly made favorable reading) As time went on I lost interest in what I considered was a Twitter spam bot and dismissed it as a badly coded piece of work that blinded spouted RT’s of Windows related subjects (a little like the MS faithful do Steve Ballmers comments)

Microsoft should be careful here, regardless of who is responsible for this bot. The FTC ought to be watching this as meanwhile we find that companies which employ AstroTurfers see it as their constitutional right to deceive the public in exactly this way.

An interesting development has occurred in the story of the controversial FTC guidelines for sponsored blogging/social media. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has called upon the FTC to rescind the blogger rules, and has questioned the constitutionality of them. As you may know, there have been a lot people calling them an infringement on free speech.

The IAB says the rules unfairly and unconstitutionally impose penalties on online media for practices in which offline media have engaged for decades. In an open letter to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, Randall Rothenberg, the President and CEO of the IAB, called the FTC’s distinction between offline media and online media, “constitutionally dubious.”

How can such people even justify what they do? Microsoft too employs such unethical agencies which help hide the truth about Vista 7. True voices are not pleased with this operating system and margins become an issue for Windows.

A Microsoft-sponsored Seattle blog claims “positive reviews for Windows 7″ (how many of them from Windows enthusiasts, MSDN folks, and bribed authors/bloggers who got a preview?), but it also exposes a known issue.

Despite positive reviews for Windows 7, the upgrade process for the millions of people still using the older Windows XP won’t be simple. Unlike the shift from the newer Windows Vista, the move from Windows XP to Windows 7 requires a clean installation — which means backing up data before installing Windows 7, then restoring data and reinstalling applications after the new OS is on the machine.

The same blog has also just published a “fluff piece” that includes quotes from familiar Microsoft shill (and former Microsoft employee/evangelist) Gartnenberg. It’s more advertising for Vista 7 disguised as an article. There will be a lot more of it as Microsoft’s bad financial results are approaching (to be immediately eclipsed by the Vista 7 marketing blitz).

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3 Comments

  1. Goblin said,

    October 17, 2009 at 4:49 am

    Gravatar

    The Twitterbot in question is very clever (IMO) if you look at its RT’S they are not obvious RT’s.

    Most RT’s will start with “RT” and I thought this was the generally accepted way of doing things on Twitter.

    In the case of hashwindows it will RT the comment with a “via” at the end not making it obvious its a RT.

    Hashwindows is not responding to my queries, I will send a letter to Microsoft asking them to confirm or deny its an official or affiliated account.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    But Microsoft can always deny because it never does anything exceedingly rotten in Twitter; it hires agencies (external) to do this. It’s a tactic used not only by Microsoft by the way (outsourcing unethical jobs).

  2. Goblin said,

    October 17, 2009 at 5:45 am

    Gravatar

    I did consider how to word the question of hashwindows to them. I have included the question of asking them if they endorse such actions.

    Will Microsoft respond? No, I wouldnt have thought so but the non-response will say just as much as a comprehensive answer.

    This Twitter account has shades of the Optionetics one I exposed. For your readers who may not remember or have read about it, it was a Twitter account that was promoting MS and Citibank stock. This came as a surprise to the company of that name (a stock market education firm) they complained to Twitter and the account was returned to them. It’s documented on my blog and I received a thank you from the company concerned.

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