Summary: More new evidence that AstroTurfing is a lot more common than most people realise
ALL companies seem to engage in AstroTurfing to some extent. Red Hat wrote about the subject recently. Here at Techrights we have been victims of Novell and Microsoft AstroTurfing too (e.g. employees in our site posting anonymously and daemonising us anonymously in other Web sites too). Groklaw was suffering a lot of SCO AstroTurfing, especially before Groklaw started to give them a lot of trouble (exposing them is effective enough as a deterrent).
According to this detailed new post, Symantec is also AstroTurfing:
The thing is – had whoever posted that comment come out and said they were a Symantec employee, we’d have absolutely no problem with that. We don’t mind people who work for companies we talk about to enter the conversation and give their perspective or more information. We love that, in fact. Heck, we might have even taken the opportunity to use the contact information the commenter should have left to call Symantec directly to interview them about how they made the commercials or about the antivirus product development.
All we needed was a little honest disclosure instead of dishonest deception.
Instead of wanting to engage with them and give them press about their campaign or their products, now we’re stuck writing this post, which instead, makes them look like jackasses who don’t know the first thing about how this whole blogger-engagement thing works.
Now, just because we’ve gotten this one anonymous post does not necessarily mean that this is part of Symantec’s official marketing strategy or campaign. This might just be a case of an overzealous Symantec employee who thinks that this is what he or she should be doing. However, if so, it does not fully remove Symantec from culpability; corporations need to have company blog conduct policies in place for just these sort of situations.
If this were a couple of years earlier, it wouldn’t have been such a big deal. But this is mid-2010. Best practices with online social media marketing specifically prohibit this kind of stuff, and blogging and blog-marketing have been mainstream form for some time. Symantec should know better by now, and that’s why this is just utterly pathetic.
Professor Michael Geist has also just complained that RIAA|MPAA (or their funding sources rather) are harassing him because he challenges ACTA and some of their aggressive positions on copyright law (which they try to change in Canada).
Warm welcome 2 all Warner & Sony Music employees anonymously commenting on my blog in support of CRIA from their work IP address
AstroTurfing is very common (it’s just harder to prove and validate). Calling people who say “AstroTurfing” something like “paranoid” is unreasonable. █