Summary: Examples of Microsoft AstroTurf in a once “news for geeks” site
TECHRIGHTS compiled a large list of AstroTurfing examples, especially from Microsoft. It’s not an hypothesis but a proven fact with plenty of evidence. Slashdot too seems to have been a victim of this and it failed to cleanse itself from the corrupting influence of Microsoft PR. Recently we saw IDG publishing and pushing Microsoft propaganda into the site whereupon Peter responded as follows:
There’s something about late spring that seems to bring the corporate asstroturf out of the woodwork (oops, I made a “Freudian typo” there!). College graduation is coming up after all, with all those fresh new students hitting the market and becoming truly adult consumers for the first time. Gotta get ready for them. Today’s front page of Slashdot brings us not one, not two, but three examples.
The first is rather telling: An unnamed company employee posts about how their company asked them to asstroturf, posing the ethical question to the hivemind. The comments are surprising in their lack of condemnation, kind of “Meh, if you want to, everyone else does.” Most of them say to go ahead if they feel the social marketing hype is warranted. Almost nobody raises the ethical issue of an employee posing as a customer giving fake reviews of their company’s product. Certainly nobody brings up the potential violation of FCC law.
I always get the blankest looks when I bring up that 2009 FCC ruling. You can hear the fact bounce off the skull with an audible “thud”.
Next, a story posts alleging that the media is unfairly biased against poor widdle Microsoft, while all the other tech companies “seem to get away from missteps unscathed”. The Slashdot crowd barely has time to shovel themselves out from under this mountain of manure when one AC posts pointing out that in fact, the piece author is a paid Microsoft evangelist, a fact not immediately evident from the bald story.
Slashdot is quite rotten these days. The managers allowed it to be this way. From “news for geeks” it became noise for geeks. Microsoft is now trying to pollute FOSS in the same way, hijacking its opposition. █